“Hundreds of Tunisian Harragas Remain Missing,” by Houda Trabelsi, for Magharebia:
Some 40,000 Tunisians fled their homeland in search of a better life following the downfall of former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Civil society groups are now working to account for those who made it, as well as those who never survived the perilous journey to Europe.
“Today illegal immigrants are living under difficult conditions in some European countries in which a minimum of basic human rights are not respected, where they are exposed to numerous afflictions,” Abderrahmen Hedhili, President of the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights (FTDES), told Magharebia…
“Some immigrant workers face violations when they arrive in the destination country, and these violations are compounded because of their status as foreigners,” Hedhili added. “Many of them also live under threat of arrest and arbitrary and illegal detention in poor conditions, as well as suffering from non-payment of wages and confiscation of identity documents.”
Hedhili is part of a committee working with Tunisian authorities and parents of missing migrants to track down the status of thousands of harragas.
“The most difficult and urgent files include those of Tunisian immigrants in Italy and France who crossed the border illegally,” Dr Thami Abdouly, Secretary of State for European Affairs, told Magharebia.
Abd Aziz Jbeli’s son Mohamed left Tunisia last March, crossing the sea and heading for the Italian island of Lampedusa. “Until today, we do not know the fate of my son Mohamed – is he dead or alive?” he lamented.