Refugees outside a tent in a refugee camp at Ras Ajdir border crossing on the Tunisian Libyian border, in Tunisia. Photo: EPA/HANNIBAL HANSCHKE
Refugees outside a tent in a refugee camp at Ras Ajdir border crossing on the Tunisian Libyian border, in Tunisia. Photo: EPA/HANNIBAL HANSCHKE

Tunisia has decided to close the Medenine center for migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers due to overcrowding and inhumane conditions.

Fadhel Mahfoudh, Tunisian minister for relations with constitutional instances, civil society and human rights, announced that the Medenine migrant center will be closed due to overcrowding and deplorable conditions for those being hosted there. "The conditions in this center are inhumane, and it will therefore be closed immediately," Mahfoudh said during a working visit to Medenine. "We have to find solutions to allow migrants and refugees to live with dignity," he said. 


He said the center's location, situated in a residential neighborhood between a high school and a foyer for female students, is inappropriate. He said the location creates problems with the neighborhood's residents, who have already asked local authorities to find another place to host the migrants. 

Resident numbers continue to increase 

The center is managed by the Tunisian Red Crescent with the support of international organizations, IOM, UNHCR, and the collaboration of the International Red Cross. Local sources said the center currently hosts 20 migrants and 180 asylum seekers, but numbers continue to grow daily due to the increase in migrant flows from Libya. The Tunisian Red Crescent and some local NGOs have long denounced the critical conditions at the Medenine center. 

IOM supports decision 

Lorena Lando, the Tunisian director of the International Organization for Migration, said the organization supports the decision to close the center, which she said has surpassed its maximum capacity. She said IOM will do everything it can to provide the necessary support and assistance to the center's guests and to respond to the authorities' demands in terms of migrant assistance. "IOM remains available to every migrant who wishes to return to his or her country of origin," Lando said. 

She said IOM ensured the return from Tunisia of 605 migrants to their countries of origin in 2018. UNHCR Tunisia representative Mazen Abu Shanab said the increase in the number of Libyan migrants in Tunisia (about 300 per month) is calling for a doubling of efforts in terms of assistance. Most of the migrants who are staying at the Medenine centre are Eritreans who wish to reach Europe, Shanab said.
 

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