Libya’s Government of National Unity (GNA) announced on Wednesday that it has successfully reached a consensus with Tunisia, to resolve the pressing issue of migrants stranded in the border region between the two nations.
The government issued a statement outlining the fruitful discussion between Libyan Interior Minister, Emad Al-Trabulsi and his Tunisian counterpart, Kamal Al-Faqi. The primary focus was to expedite operations at the shared border crossing of Ras Jedir, while streamlining the entry procedures for Libyan citizens into Tunisian territory.
The joint commitment to bolster security cooperation was a key highlight of the discussions. Both ministers emphasised the importance of enhancing existing frameworks to serve their mutual interests.
The Tunisian Ministry of Interior also acknowledged the discussions, and underscored the significance of the meeting. It said that Al-Faqi “held a productive working session, which included a comprehensive review of several shared security files. Among the key topics were combating irregular migration and finding effective measures to overcome obstacles that hinder the provision of services at the Ras Jedir border crossing.”
The meeting also facilitated discussions on common security challenges, and strategies aimed at achieving desired objectives.
The Tunisian Ministry of Interior’s statement further stressed the agreement on the “necessity of bilateral coordination, and collaboration in the security domain. Such cooperation aims to enhance the overall security situation, and address the challenges arising from illegal migration.”
During the meeting, the officials recognised the significance of addressing the issue of sub-Saharan African migrants. They acknowledged the repercussions that this issue poses to both nations, and noted the need to curb the influx of migrants across their borders. Consequently, they stressed the importance of concerted efforts and joint coordination, to develop effective solutions that align with the best interests of both countries.
In line with their commitment to practical action, Libya and Tunisia agreed to establish a joint field team responsible for monitoring movement at the Ras Jedir border crossing. The team will also propose actionable recommendations, to facilitate the smooth passage of travellers on both sides of the border.
The discussions further outlined the necessity of strengthening the permanent joint security committee. The two parties expressed their commitment to continue holding regular coordination sessions, “to deepen bilateral relations and elevate them to new heights.”
Notably, the Libyan Ministry of Interior announced the recovery of 27 bodies of undocumented migrants, in the border area with Tunisia.
The Crime Scene Investigation team, affiliated with the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), has begun working on the case. Meanwhile, the Border Security Administration has ramped up security patrols along the border desert region. The objective is to thoroughly search the area, and prevent further migrant flows.
The fate of dozens of sub-Saharan Africans near the Libyan border has become uncertain, as they claim that Tunisian authorities transported them from the city of Sfax earlier this month.
The Tunisian government then reportedly moved them to shelters in two towns. Human rights groups have said that dozens are still stranded in extremely difficult conditions, left thirsty and hungry, in an unprecedented heatwave.
Tunisian President, Kais Saied condemned illegal migration from sub-Saharan Africa in February, saying it aimed to change the demographic structure of Tunisia. Rights groups criticized these statements as racist. The African Union also criticized Tunisia, and urged it to “avoid hate speech.”