The number of migrants and refugees arriving in Italy’s southern islands, near the north coast of Africa, is the last seen in 11 years. Italian authorities counted more than 1,000 migrants and refugees in 24 hours earlier this month. There are no precise figures for the wave of migration across the southern Mediterranean, which makes it difficult to make reliable forecasts for the coming weeks and months. Because many small boats cast off, especially from Tunisian port cities, the crew of which is escorted to Italian beaches by middlemen and received there without being discovered by the Italian coast guard.
While many accidents and boats have disappeared without a trace, activists from Tunisia and Libya assume that by the beginning of August far more than the 34,000 people who were officially registered in Italy had dared to cross the Mediterranean.
Hundreds of people in distress are waiting on board lifeboats to go ashore. According to their own statements, several NGOs have saved almost 500 people in the last few weeks.
The reception camps in southern Italy are also overcrowded. According to Italian media, the Lampedusa camp houses 1,200 Tunisians and migrants from sub-Saharan Africa. The site, which is fenced off with barbed wire, was built to accommodate 300 people. The Mediterranean is now being described as the most dangerous refugee route in the world.
It is now estimated that 15,000 migrants are awaiting legal status in Tunisia. Shops are now being closed because too many black customers are visiting the shops. “It’s ruining the neighborhood’s reputation,” says one owner in Tunis.
“I would like to live here, because those who made it across the Mediterranean say how expensive life is in Europe,” says a refugee, who has found a job on an olive plantation. But without a passport, he can neither get a work permit nor a residence permit in Tunisia. Because the parliament deposed by President Kais Saied last summer could not agree on an asylum law, migrants and refugees are staying in Tunisia illegally.
“We depend solely on the goodwill of IOM, UNHCR or the police,” he says. Like many other migrants, he accuses the Tunisian staff of the United Nations and the Red Crescent aid organization of racism and withholding support services. Local politicians are demanding more help from the governments in Tunis and Brussels. “The economic crisis after the corona pandemic has also led to an unprecedented emigration of young people from western Libya and southern Tunisia. But the world will only wake up when the next major shipwreck occurs.”
All publishing rights and copyrights reserved to MENA Research and Study Center.