The growing xenophobic violence against sub-Saharan migrants in Tunisia
In mid-February, a series of arrests targeted sub-Saharan migrants in Tunisia. In Sfax, the country's economic capital, many migrants, including Ivorian, Burkinabe and Senegalese workers, were attacked by groups of civilians. Our Observer, a construction worker, told us about the climate of fear that took over the city.
Sub-Saharan migrants in Tunisia have become the target of violent attacks after President Kaïs Saïed called for their expulsion on February 21, claiming that they were part of a "criminal plan" to change the country's demographic composition. The attacks have been increasing, with migrants attacked with iron bars or stabbed, and their houses ransacked.
One such incident occurred on the night of February 26 when a group of Tunisians besieged a building occupied by migrants in Sfax, setting fire to chairs in front of the entrance.
Our Observer, a Burkinabe construction worker residing in Sfax, told us more.
A group of men came to the building. Young Tunisians, armed with knives and iron bars.
They tried to force the door. There weren't many of them at the beginning: four or five. But they came back with a crowd of people: around 30 men. Armed with knives.
All the sub-Saharans fled. Just one man stayed in the building. He's disabled and can't move. He's the one who made the video asking for help from our embassies.
They smashed things up. They looked for money and stole things. And people were injured.
In an attempt to calm the controversy caused by his remarks, President Saïed announced a series of measures on March 6 aimed at improving the lives of foreigners in the country. However, our Observer reports that many migrants continue to live in a state of fear, with some too afraid to leave their homes. In fact, many have been forced out of their rented homes by landlords who no longer want to house them.