This article will provide an account of how readmission agreements have been working between Italy and Tunisia in the last few years. Considering available data on the matter, as well as three months’ worth of personal research and interviews with direct sources in Tunisia, this article will then examine some of the shortcomings of the Italian repatriation system, so as to counter the widely held assumption that Italy and Tunisia are setting a model case for how readmissions are to be operated in Europe.
Everyone knows about the existence of irregular migrants in Tunisia, but it’s not a political issue. Although the new constitution of 2014 includes a right to asylum, the existing respective draft law is waiting to be passed for two years already. “The migrants are here, but because they’re not making problems, everyone seems to be happy”, the former State Minister for Migration Affairs, Belgacem Sabri, told RLS in October 2015. A short time later, his function was cancelled, which exemplifies the low status the government assigns to the issue.
Terre d’Asile Tunisie, through their “House of Migration” in Tunis – where irregular migrants can meet and receive support – collected and evaluated data of 314 migrants from January 2014 to March 2016 in order to come to a better understanding of migration in Tunisia. Who are they? What are the reasons that made them come to Tunisia? What are their living conditions?
The results are published in the “Portraits de Migrants” and were presented on 19 December 2016 in the Dar Rosa, the event center of the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung in Tunis. Arabic and English language versions of the study are forthcoming.
This publication was made possible through the cooperation with the Fédération des Tunisiens pour une Citoyenneté des deux Rives (FTCR) and Altercarto, “the Citizen Cartography” initiative. Its purpose is to set in place a working tool that aims to map the economic and social data of Tunisia in order to strengthen citizen-based dialogue with a rigorous and participatory approach. Wanting to innovate in their methodology and to actively involve the public, the Citizen Cartography project in 2016 set up five encounters: a thematic conference and a day of mapping workshops. The Citizen Cartography Journal contains articles about each subject, and more insights about the project. (The publication is in French).
A dramatic combination of regional conflicts, human rights violations on a massive scale, and the European border regime has triggered an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, leaving hundreds of thousands of people with little or no choice but to cross the Mediterranean Sea in barely-seaworthy and overcrowded boats.
The report largely draws on interviews with officials and staff from many institutions and organizations working on migration. The purpose of this paper is to cast light on the situation of migrants, whatever their origin, who for one reason or another currently find themselves in Tunisia.