Anti-Migrant Violence: World Bank Suspends Partnership with Tunisia

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Anti-migrant violence: the World Bank suspends its partnership with Tunisia

These migrants from sub-Saharan Africa were intercepted by Tunisian authorities on their way to Italy on October 4, 2022.

The World Bank ( BM) to suspend “until further notice” its partnership framework with Tunisia, after attacks targeting migrants in the country, following a speech by Tunisian President Kaïs Saïed, delivered at the end of of February, which denounced “hordes of clandestine migrants”.

According to a letter sent to its teams by the president of the WB, David Malpass, which AFP was able to consult on Monday, the institution was not in a position to continue its missions on the spot given the the situation, while the safety and inclusion of migrants and minorities are part of the WB's core values ​​of inclusion, respect and anti-racism.

The decision concerns the Country Partnership Framework (CPF), which serves as the basis for the monitoring of the WB's Board of Directors in order to assess and support the country in its aid programs. /p>

In concrete terms, the institution can no longer launch a new support program with the country until the Board has met, and it has decided to postpone this meeting on Tunisia until further notice, according to the letter from Mr. Malpass.

Funded projects remain funded and ongoing projects remain ongoing, a source close to the WB said.

The WB warns, however, of a possible slowdown of its actions on site because of the implementation of security measures, in particular for its personnel from sub-Saharan Africa and their families.

Tunisia has a long tradition of openness and tolerance which is encouraged by so many in the country, insisted David Malpass in his letter to WB employees.

If the measures taken by the Tunisian government to protect and support migrants and refugees in this very difficult situation go in the right direction, the WB assures that it will carefully assess and monitor their impact.

During a press briefing on Monday, US State Department spokesman Ned Price expressed deep US concerns over President Saied's comments.

The spokesperson called on the Tunisian government to respect its obligations under international law by protecting the rights of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants.

On February 21, Tunisian President Kaïs Saïed said in a speech that urgent measures were needed against the illegal immigration of nationals from sub-Saharan Africa. He spoke in particular of hordes of illegal immigrants whose arrival was part of a criminal enterprise hatched at the dawn of this century to change the demographic composition of Tunisia.

The remarks were strongly criticized by NGOs and human rights activists.

They also caused a wave of panic among sub-Saharan migrants who have since reported ;an upsurge in attacks targeting them and dozens rushed to their embassies to be repatriated.

According to official data cited by the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights (FTDES) , Tunisia, with a population of some 12 million, is home to more than 21,000 nationals from sub-Saharan African countries, most of them in an irregular situation.

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