spot_img

ذات صلة

جمع

إما الإذعان أو الإفقار.. عن”المال الغربي” والسيادة الإفريقية

المساعدات الدولية، حتى لو كانت الدول الإفريقية نفسها حريصة على تلقيها، تميل إلى جعلها تغفل عن مصالحها الأساسية.

الشهيدات يعدن هذا الأسبوع.. حروب ومعاناة بتفاصيل نسائية

ماذا عن معاناة المرأة الفلسطينية اليوم؟ أين هي تفاصيلها في خضم هذا السيل العارم من الأخبار القاسية والمشاهد المريعة لضحايا الكيان الصهيوني الذي لا يملك أدنى درجات الإنسانية في تعامله مع المواطن الفلسطيني؟

وما ذنب الأشجار؟.. مصر تتحضَّر لـ”محو الأخضر”

خلال الأعوام الأخيرة، تغير الروتين اليومي لشكري أسمر، المقيم...

بان أفريقاني جديد على رأس السلطة.. ماذا يعني فوز الشاب ديوماي فاي برئاسة السنغال من الجولة الأولى؟

من أسرة مزارعة إلى الرئاسة.. بصيرو يوماي فاي الشاب الذي هزم “المؤسسة” في السنغال

الأموال تتحدث.. الاتحاد الأوروبي يستخدم سلاح “الدعم المالي” لوقف الهجرة من مصر

يدرك الاتحاد الأوروبي أن هذا المبلغ الكبير لا يستهدف فقط وقف هجرة المصريين المتنامية خلال الفترة الأخيرة جراء الأزمة الاقتصادية، ولكن أيضا عبور المهاجرين المقيمين على أرضها.

When coast guards and pirates steal our boat engines and left migrants face death at sea

“I’ve never felt such terror before. I fought death several times. I had lost all of the money I had. And I was on the verge of losing my life and my child. We have fled our homeland because of poverty and conflict.. However, this was insufficient cause for human traffickers to show mercy towards us. They stole our boat’s engine as well as everything else we had. They abandoned us at sea, leaving us to our fate. In actuality, I was living a nightmare in which I expected to die at any moment”.

It has never crossed the mind of Ashoul Ding—a pseudonym of an African immigrant—that she would live through the misery that proved to be harsher than the unspeakably bitter reality when she fled her country along with her child. She was looking for a safer place and a brighter future for herself and her child. The two joined a swarm of African migrants who were attempting to cross the Mediterranean into Italy.
The journey that Ding and her comrades started involved countless risks, starting from the arrangements related to fleeing their homeland and avoiding being hunted down and repatriated by the local authorities, in addition to the blackmailing exercised by illegal immigration middlemen. Those brokers don’t hesitate to risk the lives of immigrants in return for even a handful of dollars. However, the worst scenario was still awaiting them. They had to face inevitable death as Tunisian pirates attacked their unseaworthy boat, which set sail from Sfax city. The pirates stole the boat’s engine as well as all that the immigrants on board possessed, leaving them in complete terror in the middle of gloomy seawaters with no means they could use to reach safety—except a miracle.
The boat that Ding—along with 41 other immigrants, including 5 women and 3 children from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Irony Coast, Ghenea, Nigeria, and South Sudan—capsized after a three-day unguided venture in the Mediterranean without an engine However, they were lucky this time when they were saved by the boats of coast guards of Lampedusa Island, which is located between Malta and Tunisia and 170 kilometers southwest of Sicily. It is administratively affiliated with Italy within its group, which is part of a municipal consortium in Agrigento, Sicily.

The Mediterranean pirates: No mercy towards even human traffickers’ victims

While this African immigrant and her companions were fortunate to survive at the last moment, another boat was the site of a humanitarian disaster. Five immigrants on board died, including a child and an Ivory Coast woman, while 37 other immigrants survived. They were tossed into the sea when pirates aboard a fishing boat sought to seize the engine rather than assist them in safely reaching their destination.
Following their harrowing journey, survivors aboard the second boat arrived in Sicily late last July, totally exhausted, afraid, and unable to speak a single word. They told stories about their boat capsizing in the middle of the sea after a Tunisian fishing vessel approached them and tried to seize the engine of their already dilapidated boat.
According to the Italian news agency ANSA, police in Lampedusa have noticed an increase in the number of migrant boats discovered without engines. At the same time, migrants and asylum seekers arriving on the island say their engines were stolen during their journeys across the Mediterranean to reach Europe.
On March 26, the immigrants spoke for the first time about the engine being stolen. A boat carrying 42 immigrants was found without it. The immigrants aboard the boat told rescuers that the crewmembers of a Tunisian fishing boat boarded their boat and stole the engine. At the end of April, a baby girl as young as 4 drowned at sea after the crew of a Tunisian fishing boat approached the immigrants’ boat, which she was boarding, in an attempt to steal the engine as well.


Prosecutors in the Sicilian city of Agrigento, who are investigating the latter case, said that gangs aboard Tunisian fishing vessels steal the engines of migrant boats to sell to smugglers, as well as money and belongings from asylum seekers.

On July 30, Italian prosecutors stated that many Tunisian fishermen-turned-pirates robbed boats carrying migrants and asylum-seekers from Sub-Saharan Africa and east to the coast of Sicily. The Tunisian pirates held migrants at gunpoint while intercepting their boats to get what they wanted. Several similar cases have been reported in recent weeks.

The coast guards: Robbers not rescuers 

After a two-week journey a year ago, Joseph left Cameroon for the Tunisian city of Sfax. He was hoping—like thousands before him fleeing poverty and conflict in Africa and the Middle East in search of a better life—that the Tunisian city would serve as his gateway to crossing the Mediterranean into Europe. However, after the awful experiences he and his companions had, he changed his mind and began to seriously consider returning to his country.
“The boat trip was very perilous, and the conditions in Tunisia became unbearable,” Joseph says, pointing to a photo on his phone of a friend who had just left Sfax: “Look, he’s dead now; he drowned when the Tunisian coast guards attacked the boat and removed its engine, leaving it without engine in the middle of the sea, where it sank.”
Pirates aren’t the only danger facing African immigrants during their journeys throughout the Mediterranean. Even if they miraculously survive their attacks, they then brace for a graver danger: The Tunisian coast guards. Instead of working to rescue them or at least help them safely return to where they came from, the Tunisian coast guards conduct dangerous maneuvers to intercept the migrant boats in the middle of the sea. Moreover, they join the pirates in stealing the boats’ engines—ironically, even in a more organized way—causing the boat to be thus propelled by the seawater, sailing perilously and aimlessly.


In December 2022, more than 50 organizations denounced the Tunisian coast guard’s violence against migrants and their boats, which included “beatings with sticks, shooting in the air or towards the engine, knife attacks, dangerous maneuvers to try to sink boats, and seeking money for rescue.”

These attacks have become more frequent in recent months, and they have targeted both Tunisian and non-Tunisian migrants. Furthermore, the Tunisian Coast Guard has recently been caught stealing the engines of boats that were trying to leave the country, leaving those on board to die at sea—causing avoidable drownings.
It was reported in March that at least 29 migrants died a few days ago after their boat capsized while attempting to cross the Mediterranean from the Tunisian state of Sfax to Italy. Days later, Hatem Sharif, regional director of the Ministry of Health in the Tunisian state of Sfax, warned that the local health system is grappling with a large number of dead recovered from the sea following boat disasters in recent days.
He also said that the regional hospital in Sfax received 42 corpses of illegal immigrants, reiterating that it could only accommodate 35 corpses. According to him, the pace of illegal immigration accelerates, and the decomposition of corpses happens faster due to the soaring temperatures. Meanwhile, several organizations blame the European Union for the drownings of migrants in the Mediterranean, denouncing the EU’s support for the Tunisian and Libyan coast guards.
Human rights activists and immigrants have been warning for the past two months that Tunisian officials are engaging in risky activities to limit attempts to cross the European coastlines. Measures included intercepting immigrant boats and abandoning them in the middle of the Mediterranean.
This is not the first time that official authorities have been accused of such violations; there have been several reports of Libyan and Greek coast guards removing engines from migrant boats.
Calilo, a 28-year-old young man from Ivory Coast, told the Info Migrants platform that he had been subjected to such engine-stealing incidents. “The coast guard intercepted our boat and seized all the gasoline we had, ordering the captain to remove the engine,” he stated. Given that they were armed men, we had no choice but to obey their orders. They fled after stealing the engine, leaving our boat perilously sailing. We found ourselves at sea aboard a boat with no safety. It’s a terrifying spectacle.”
According to the young man, who has been living in Tunisia for the past five years and has attempted several times to cross the Mediterranean, the Tunisian authorities sometimes return to the scene hours later. In the event that they find immigrants, they return them to one of the ports. And sometimes we get help from fishermen’s boats in case they sail near us.”

Attacks at sea, crackdown on shore 

The Alarm Phone platform receives many distress calls from immigrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean. In a Twitter post, the platform revealed that the Tunisian coast guards attacked five boats that attempted to flee Tunisia, stealing the engines. As many as 200 people were left to sail unguided, according to the platform. “In Tunisia, black people are coming under attack at sea and onshore.”
The platform quoted troubled immigrants as saying, “This is the way they treat us. They don’t want us to stay, nor do they want us to leave. We have been in the water for eight hours. We are feeling cold. We were born on the wrong side of the Mediterranean. We have children who are as young as 6 months old with us. The Tunisian coast guards have stolen the boat engines to sell them in return for money.”
Attempts to cross the Mediterranean from the shore around Sfax have recently increased drastically, amid a wave of racist violence provoked by Tunisian President Kais Saied’s fiery remarks aimed at African immigrants. He argued that irregular migration from other African countries was part of an “international conspiracy” to change Tunisia’s demographic character; he also alleged that the “hordes” of illegal immigrants from Sub-Saharan Africa contributed to “violence and crime.”
Families of African diaspora immigrants in Sfax, Sousse, and Tunis reported being evicted from their homes, attacked with knives, and arrested within Tunisia Meanwhile, many of them have lost their insecure informal jobs; these jobs helped them secure food and shelter. Additionally, a substantial number of those immigrants sleep under a tarpaulin outside the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) country headquarters.
The Tunisian authorities backed Said, claiming that his speech was directed at individuals who entered the country illegally rather than those who live there legally. This comes at a time when African people within the country have disclosed the level of intimidation they have experienced as a result of the president’s statements. Many of them stated that their homes had been set on fire, while others had been beaten, forcing many black Africans to head to their embassies to arrange their repatriation.
Tunisia lacks a national asylum system. People rescued at sea, whether Tunisians or non-Tunisians, are more likely to face human rights violations; they are also more likely to be incarcerated and violently refouled.
More than 60 civil search and rescue organizations and migrant solidarity networks issued a joint statement, saying that Tunisia cannot be considered a haven for migrants rescued at sea. They cited the Tunisian state’s continuous shift to authoritarianism as well as the country’s horrific brutality and persecution of black people, calling on European Union authorities and member states to suspend migratory control agreements with Tunisian authorities.
According to the statement, many people in the African diaspora have been subjected to violence; they have also been denied shelter, food, and the right to health and movement. It was pointed out that black Africans are targeted not just by armed mob lynchings; they are also targeted by forms of institutional violence.. Security forces arbitrarily classify, arrest, and jail them based on their race. The majority of them were subject to forced disappearances.
Around four months ago, approximately 250 people who had become homeless, including children, staged a sit-in in front of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR); they demanded immediate action and feared for their lives.
The security forces dealt with the situation by aggressively suppressing and dispersing the protest; they attacked the crowd with tear gas to break it up, resulting in significant casualties. Roughly 80 people were arrested, with several claiming to have been tortured and ill-treated.

The European Union: Covering up abuses and funding the gate keeper

For more than a decade, the European Union and its member states have provided Tunisia with politic support, finance, and equipment to help it control its borders and curb migration to Europe. The goal was unmistakable: no one should have access to the EU at any cost.
The EU is carrying out its strategy through agreements for “joint management of migration,” border control, and forced repatriation of citizens.
In mid-July, Tunisia signed a memorandum of understanding with the European Union. It included agreements on disrupting the business model of human smugglers and traffickers, strengthening border control, improving registration and return procedures, and all other basic measures to bolster efforts to stop irregular migration.
Other issues covered by the “strategic partnership” pact were economic development and renewable energy. Tunisian President Kaiis Saied focused in his remarks on the accord on matters relating to “bringing peoples together”; he referred to the Tunisian and European peoples, noting that Tunisia “has given immigrants everything it can offer with unlimited generosity.”
The agreement provides 105 million euros in funding to Tunisia to curb “irregular immigration”; it also provides 150 million euros to shore up the state budget.
Tunisia received more than 37 million euros from the EU Trust Fund for Africa between 2016 and 2020 under the guise of “managing migration flows and borders. In the meantime, the Kais Saied government awaits additional inflows of millions of euros.
Furthermore, the EU is assisting through “police training, the provision of equipment for data collection and management, technical support, the provision of equipment and maintenance of ships for coastal patrol, and other tools for tracking and monitoring movements.”
Despite several horrifying testimonies of abuses the Tunisian coast guard committed against migrants and asylum seekers, the European Union refuses to document these violations. In just the first three months of 2023, 14,963 people were prevented from leaving Tunisia by sea and violently forced back against their will on behalf of the European Union. This comes when the Tunisian coast guard receives financial and technological assistance to intercept them in any manner possible. Both sides see nothing wrong with messing with human lives; the most important thing is that those people do not reach the European coast.

Translated  by: Mostafa Hassan

spot_imgspot_img