• Zarzis

  • Tuesday, January 30, 2024 at 6:21:04 AM
    Last Update : Monday, February 12, 2024 at 12:03 PM

Growing Number of Refugees Sparks New Round of Escalation with Locals in Zarzis, Tunisia

(AWP) - Local residents and refugees fleeing the war in Sudan exchanged accusations of escalating tensions in the Tunisian city of Zarzis.

Tunisians complain of a growing number of foreigners seeking opportunities in the southeastern coastal city to cross the Mediterranean to Europe.

Disgruntled locals gathered in protests to demand the removal of irregular migrants from Zarzis because of what they described as “threats posed to the safety and security of the citizens and the disruption of their work.”

The inhabitants are concerned about the increasing influx to their coastal city located around 540 kilometres from the Tunisian capital, Tunis.

Salah Abichou, a resident of Zarzis, said in statements to the Arab World Press (AWP), “I have seen several tragic incidents in the city due to assaults by Africans on the citizens in their own homes, provoking them. We found not found any solutions.”

Another Zarzis citizen blamed the International Organization for Migration (IOM) for the conditions in her city.

Mabrouka Khneisi said, “The strangers flocked to us. We asked for nothing as Tunisian citizens of Zarzis. We are aware of IOM’s role, which is to build tents for them at the borders and provide food, water and medicine.”

“They attacked our men and threatened to kill my brother-in-law,” she added.

The residents of Zarzis complained of what they called “chaos, assaults and theft by the newcomers to the city.”

However, the migrants deny the accusations and said they have been facing “racist harassment, violence and eviction from homes.”

The migrants also staged protests outside the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in Zarzis, where they raised placards demanding protection.

The placards read “We face racism in our daily lives,” “No to forced deportation,” “Where is the international community?” and “There is no protection by the UNHCR.”

Ahmed Nuweira, a Sudanese refugee, said in statements to AWP, “We want our voices heard by the whole world and the UNHCR. We demand an immediate solution and immediate evacuation from Tunisia. If the Tunisian people are not welcoming us Sudanese in their country, we want to go back to our country or a third country with dignity and pride.”

Tunisia has been troubled by the influx of thousands of irregular migrants and asylum seekers from African countries south of the Sahara region fleeing the tough economic conditions and civil wars in their own countries, in the hope of making it to Europe from Tunisian territories.