Sub-Saharan Africans in Tunisia targeted in wave of knife attacks

This photo shows Amadou, a migrant from the Ivory Coast living in Tunis. He was assaulted by a group of men after he fought with his landlord. © Screengrab, DR
This photo shows Amadou, a migrant from the Ivory Coast living in Tunis. He was assaulted by a group of men after he fought with his landlord. © Screengrab, DR © Screen grab, DR

Sub-Saharan migrants in Tunisia have been targeted in a wave of knife assaults, say migrant groups who have been posting about the ongoing attacks since March 25. Several migrants say that they were assaulted In the neighbourhoods of Kram and La Soukra, located north of Tunis, the capital. They want Tunisian authorities to provide them with more protection.

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A series of photos published on social media since March 25 show the victims of these attacks. In some images, they are still bloody. In others, they have bandaged arms or compresses on their head. The captions to these photos explain that these people were all victims of to a series of targeted knife assaults on migrants from sub-Saharan Africa in the La Soukra and Kram neighbourhoods in Tunis, the capital of Tunisia. 

This Facebook post, which was published on March 30, 2021, talks about a wave of assaults on people from sub-Saharan Africa living in Tunis. The France 24 Observers team was unable to confirm all of these incidents.  

"Here, they don’t respect Black migrants”

The FRANCE 24 Observers team spoke with Amadou, a migrant from Mali, who has been living in Dar Fadhal (La Soukra) for the past nine months. He says that his landlord kicked him out, then sent a group of men after him. Amadou was assaulted by these unknown persons: 

It was around 8pm on Friday when my landlord came and knocked on my door. I was sleeping. He wanted to verify the cleanliness of  the apartment, especially the windows, which he found dirty. But I told him that the windows were already in that state when I moved in. 

The discussion got heated very quickly. He broke down the door and a fight started. He hit me several times but I didn’t let him get the better of me. That’s when a group of people armed with knives came to defend him. One of them broke an empty bottle over my head. That’s how I ended up at the hospital. 

When I got back, I saw that all of my belongings— and those of my roommates— had been thrown outside. There were seven of us living in the apartment, including a newborn baby. Here, people don’t respect Black migrants. Landlords abuse us. It’s racism. 

The FRANCE 24 Observers team contacted Amadou’s landlord, who claimed that several local men came to his rescue when Amadou and two of his roommates were hitting him. 

“I just wanted to see if my apartment was being kept in good condition. I thought I was renting the apartment to four people. But there were nearly eight people there. I didn’t send anyone to beat them up. They were the ones hitting me.” 

Several assaults and robberies by people armed with knives were also reported in Kram on December 5 Avenue, where many sub-Saharan migrants live. It’s a place where rent is often cheap. 

"They had knives and they wanted to stab us”

Mamadou, originally from the Ivory Coast, has lived on December 5 Avenue for several years. He said that he and his brother were attacked on Monday, March 29 by “Arabs” who wanted to steal his telephone. 

They had knives and wanted to stab us. Thankfully, they weren’t able to take our phones. It feels like only Black people are assaulted or robbed in our neighbourhood. 

Every day, young Arab delinquents carry out assaults in these neighbourhoods. They attack both men and women. They steal our phones and our wallets. Already, it’s not easy to live as an undocumented person in Tunisia. We are really angry about the situation. 

The fact that we are undocumented makes us vulnerable to different kinds of abuse

The FRANCE 24 Observers team contacted Ange Seri Soka, the president of the Union of Ivorians in Tunisia. He denounced the “racist and targeted” attacks and the security forces’ failure to act.

Attacks on sub-Saharan Africans living in Tunisia are happening more and more frequently. We’ve recorded an assault every two days by a delinquent or a hoodlum. And the police are doing nothing to change things. 

We don’t feel safe. And those who attack us enjoy complete impunity. In Kram, the attackers are particularly dangerous. 

It’s injustice that we face in Tunisia. There is no respect for human rights. No one respects people from the sub-Saharan community here. 

Even our own embassies don’t protect us. There are a lot of undocumented people in our community. It’s not easy to get a residency permit here in Tunisia. And that makes us even more vulnerable to abuse. Because lots of people are afraid to go to the police to seek justice. 

The authorities need to provide us with more protection because migrants also contribute to economic development in Tunisia. 

We contacted the police in both Kram and La Soukra but they did not respond to our questions. 

In December 2018, Falikou Coulibaly, the president of another Ivorian group, the Association of Ivorians in Tunisia was stabbed to death for his cellphone. The murder sparked outrage amongst the sub-Saharan African community and led to a series of protests in the Tunisian capital.