Waiting in the middle ground: Blocking the movement of illegalized people on the move in Tunisia, an unsafe country

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Riccardo Biggi
Valentina Lomaglio
Luca Ramello
University of Sousse
June 2022

Abstract: This ethnographic study focuses on a group of saharan and sub-saharan people on the move in Tunisia, protesting against the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Tunis, due to the unsafe juridic, economic and social conditions they live in the country. Their demand is immediate evacuation and resettlement to a safe country. Using qualitative data and secondary sources gathered in three months of field research around the i’tisam (arabic for sit-in) of Rue du Lac, we argue in this short thesis that Tunisia cannot be considered a safe country for people on the move from saharan and
sub-saharan Africa, because neither the State nor international organizations are able to provide international protection. Human rights violations, racism, discrimination are evidence of the conditions of unsafety lived by illegalized foreigners (especially black-skinned) in Tunisia. We argue that the country is used as an externalized border, to block the movement of these people in their travel to Europe. The root causes of this are the institutional racism that permeates the European borders and visas system; and the lack of autonomy of the Tunisian State from the EU migration agenda, due to the economic dependency on European funding.

 

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