Migrants: Tunisia, 1,100 illegal migrants arrested in 2016

Prison terms for those who leave,no asylum rights for foreigners

21 February, 14:29

    (ANSAmed) - TUNIS, FEBRUARY 21 - Tunisian authorities in 2016 stopped 113 illegal attempts to leave and enter the country - the latter mostly from Libya - and carried out some 1,100 arrests, 80% of which regarded sub-Saharan migrants, according to data released by the National Guard.

    The number includes migrants from other African countries and from Libya, in transit through Tunisia.

    Current legislation, which dates back to 2004 and does not provide for asylum rights, is very harsh on Tunisians leaving the country illegally (providing for jail terms of several months) as well as those organizing or sponsoring such trips - a charge which can also befall passengers - who risk up to 15 years in jail.

    As far as foreigners residing in Tunisia illegally are concerned, given the lack of official data, several human rights NGOs report that they are arrested and taken to centers of ''reception and orientation for migrants'' - about a dozen in total.

    They are then reportedly forced to go back to their countries even if their rights and safety are at risk, paying for the trip and a fine. They otherwise risk being deported to Algeria through the land border (in the desert) of the governorate of Kasserine, according to unofficial sources.

    Tunisians leave for Europe, even risking their lives, driven by high unemployment rates (over 30% and even more in poor areas) and the young average age of the population: almost 30% of the population is aged between 15 and 30.

    Leaving the country legally is very difficult as nationals need a visa to travel almost everywhere, including most Arab countries.

    According to a report by the Tunisian forum for economic and social rights (Ftds) - drafted in cooperation with the Rose Luxemburg Stiftung Foundation (Rls) - ''45% of young Tunisians looking for work said they were ready to emigrate, even illegally''. (ANSAmed).

    © Copyright ANSA - All rights reserved