Tunisia has prevented 53 Ivorian and Sudanese citizens from illegally entering the country, according to the country’s defence ministry, info migrants reports
Two groups of migrants consisting of 33 Ivorian and 20 Sudanese nationals had reportedly approached the Tunisian border by land in the southern border area of Medenine, where they were arrested by military units and subsequently sent back to Libya.
The move was criticized by various NGOs, demanding that Tunisian authorities allow the migrants to enter “urgently into Tunisian territory so that they can be taken care of by humanitarian organizations”. The statement also said that 36 rather than 33 Ivorian migrants had been intercepted by Tunisian authorities, including 11 women, some of whom allegedly were pregnant. It was unclear from various sources how many minors were part of the group. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Tunisia said there were four little children in total, while other sources claimed there were three babies, the same source said
The IOM added that it had mobilized its teams since being alerted of the situation, trying to contact authorities on both sides of the border to ensure humanitarian intervention, while coordinating operations with the Tunisian Red Crescent and the Ivory Coast’s consulates in Tunisia and Libya. The UN agency said that the extreme heat in the desert meant that this was a matter of urgency.
In another connection, Tunisian authorities stopped about 100 people who were trying to reach Italy without a visa over the weekend, according to the Tunisian interior ministry.
The interior ministry said that there were three different operations that prevented several dozens of people from travelling across the Mediterranean Sea to Italy. On Saturday, some 70 people of different nationalities were arrested north of Sfax. They were found in a home before allegedly reaching their point of departure, the same also noted.
The National guards also arrested 16 people of various nationalities, including six women, accused of “taking part in an operation to illegally cross the border” in Sakiet Ezzit, in the governorate of Sfax. The people detained confessed that they wanted to reach Italy’s coast during police questioning, authorities said.
Another eight people were arrested on the coast of Kalaat Al Andalous, in the governorate of Ariana. Officials reportedly stopped a dinghy as it was leaving. Police also seized 600 euros in cash found in the migrants’ possession.