Tunisia: In Tunisia, the EU Is Repeating an Old and Dangerous Mistake

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As the representatives of so-called "Team Europe" were shaking Tunisian President Kais Saied's hand this July, hundreds of refugees and migrants were stranded in the country's desert border areas with Libya, after its security forces rounded them up and abandoned them there without access to food, water or shelter.

Agreements aiming to contain people in non-EU countries don't save lives, nor do they reduce people's reliance on irregular routes. Rather, people on the move are forced to take more dangerous routes to avoid interception by authorities, while smugglers profit as refugees and other migrants increasingly rely on their services.

Tunisia recently denied entry to five MEPs who had been due to visit the country on official duty. Among them were MEPs Satouri and Gahler who haddue to the crackdown in Tunisia. The denial of entry was widely seen as retaliation. Once hailed as the success story of the Arab Spring protests and a former hub for human rights defenders from across North Africa, Tunisia now risks following Egypt's path, which saw its President Abdelfattah al-Sisi turn his country into an open-air prison, while overseeing the impoverishment of millions of Egyptians.

Finally, perhaps knowing the agreement would increase the risk of human rights violations against migrants and refugees, the Commission chose to negotiate the MoU in secret. The negotiations took place without the scrutiny of the European Parliament, national parliaments or any involvement from civil society.Get the latest in African news delivered straight to your inbox

 

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