Atlanta, United States (CNN) – Many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Guinea and Gabon, are helping their citizens to return from Tunisia, after a controversial statement issued by Tunisian President Kais Saied to crack down on illegal immigration to his country, the month the past.
During a meeting with the National Security Council on February 21, the Tunisian president described the illegal border crossing from sub-Saharan Africa to Tunisia as “a criminal scheme that appeared at the beginning of this century to change the demographics of Tunisia.”
Saeed said that the continuation of illegal immigration aims to turn Tunisia into a “only African country that does not belong to the Arab and Islamic worlds,” adding that those behind this scheme are involved in human trafficking.
The African Union strongly condemned the Tunisian government’s statements, describing them as “racist” and “shocking”.
In a statement in February, the African Union said: “The Chairperson of the African Union Commission reminds all countries, in particular the Member States of the African Union, to fulfill their obligations under international law and relevant AU rules to treat all migrants with dignity, wherever they come from, and to refrain from extremist hate speech.” who can harm people, and give priority to their safety and human rights.”
The government of Côte d’Ivoire stated that 145 citizens will be deported on Saturday, according to the Ivorian news agency, the state news agency, on Friday.
Mali also announced the voluntary repatriation of its citizens from Tunisia, according to what was reported by the government newspaper L’Essour, on Thursday, while the Presidency of Guinea published pictures of the leader of the military junta, Colonel Mamady Doumboya, as he welcomed the returnees to Guinea at Conakry Airport twice, on Saturday and last Wednesday.
The Gabonese embassy in Tunisia said that many migrants from sub-Saharan countries no longer feel safe in Tunisia and offered to return its citizens, explaining that they have until midnight on March 5, to register for voluntary return.
In a subsequent speech on February 23, Said asserted that there was no racial discrimination in Tunisia, and said that “our African brothers legally residing in Tunisia” were welcome in the country.
And the official Tunisian News Agency reported, on Saturday, that the Tunisian authorities arrested 58 African immigrants, on Friday, after they crossed the border and were illegally in the country.