International humanitarian organizations report that at least 5,500 migrants have been pushed from Tunisia, towards the borders with Libya. A further 3,000 have been sent towards the borders with Algeria since June, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP).
Citing sources, AFP noted that over 100 migrants have lost their lives in the Libyan-Tunisian desert this summer, confirming that “collective expulsion operations to Libya and Algeria are ongoing.”
A significant number of those displaced towards the borders were individuals arrested by the Tunisian authorities, as they attempted to leave for Europe. Most of the migrants intercepted on the eastern coast of Tunisia near Sfax, located only about 130 kilometers from the Italian island of Lampedusa, have been detained.
The pace of mass migration accelerated in February, after Tunisian President, Kais Saied denounced the arrival of “hordes of illegal immigrants” from Sub-Saharan Africa. He considered them part of a “criminal plan” aimed at “changing the country’s demographic composition,” as reported by the AFP.
The report highlighted that this rhetoric triggered a violent anti-migrant campaign, leading several African countries, notably the Ivory Coast and Guinea, to repatriate thousands of their citizens. Meanwhile, many migrants attempted to escape via boats, resulting in several drownings.
In August, the Libyan Interior Ministry of the Government of National Unity (GNU) 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 National Commission for Human Rights in Libya (NCHRL) announced an increase in the number of bodies found in the country’s border region, reaching 12.
Ahmed Hamza, the Head of the NCHRL, told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed newspaper that the body recovery unit, affiliated with the Emergency Medicine and Government Support Center, “recently retrieved the remains of two African migrants in the border area, bringing the total number of recovered bodies to 12, including children.”
The Government of National Unity (GNU) has formed a working group between the Ministries of Interior and Foreign Affairs, as well as the General Staff Headquarters, to coordinate efforts regarding the handling of migrants coming from Tunisia to Libya.
Meanwhile, humanitarian organizations continue to call upon Tunisian authorities to halt the deportation of migrants to the desert.
The rise in migrant deaths highlights the urgency of addressing the challenges faced by migrants seeking safer and better lives.
Hamza’s revelations shed light on the grim reality faced by migrants who embark on perilous journeys, often risking their lives in the hope of finding security and a brighter future.
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.