Over 300 Ivorian Nationals in Tunisia Repatriated

Ivorians in Tunisia Repatriated (News Central TV)

In Tunisia, where migrants claim they no longer feel safe after President Kais Saied claimed they posed a demographic threat, over 300 Ivorians were returned on Thursday.

Ibrahim Sy Savane, the Ivory Coast’s ambassador in Tunis, reported that 287 people, including 21 toddlers, were taken back to Abidjan on a jumbo jet that Ethiopian Airlines had hired.

Since chartered flights started in early March, 1,053 Ivorians have been returned from Tunisia in total, Savane informed newsmen.

According to Savane, just under 3,000 Ivorians have registered with the embassy for return.

Describing “a race against time”, the Ivorian ambassador said the country was planning to charter further repatriation flights.

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He said he wanted “to prevent more desperate people from throwing themselves into the Mediterranean with little chance of survival.”

President Kais Saied

Without a visa, Ivorians can go to Tunisia, where they make up the largest sub-Saharan African population—about 7,000 people.

Many migrants use Tunisia as a launching pad for attempts to go to Europe by sea, although some come to study. Tunis has come under pressure from European governments to stop the migration.

The Italian island of Lampedusa is about 150 kilometers away from some of Tunisia’s coastline.

Since the beginning of March, at least three fatal shipwrecks of migrant boats off the coast of Tunisia have been reported, among them many Ivorians.

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Saied on February 21 accused immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa of causing a wave of “violence and crime”, saying they aimed to “change the demographic composition” of Tunisia and separate it from the Islamic and Arab worlds.

With a population of 12 million, the 12 million-person nation of Tunisia is home to an estimated 21,000 migrants from other African nations or 0.2% of the total.

Migrants had reported an increase in racial attacks in the days following Saied’s speech, and many had been kicked out onto the streets by landlords who feared severe fines or jail time for sheltering them.

Many hurried to their embassies to be returned, while those who worked informally in construction and other industries also lost their jobs.

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