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14 refugees from sub-Saharan Africa drowned off the coast of Tunisia

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Sub-Saharan refugees are increasingly complaining about growing racist violence in the country

Fourteen refugees from sub-Saharan Africa drowned off the coast of the Tunisian city of Sfax, the Tunisian coast guard said, adding that 54 people of various nationalities were rescued from the sea after their boat sank.



“Last night Coast Guard patrols intercepted a group whose boat had sunk and rescued 54 people of various nationalities from sub-Saharan Africa and recovered 14 bodies,” the coast guard, as reported by the French news agency AFP, wrote on Facebook.

Tunisia, whose coast lies only about 150 kilometers from the Italian island of Lampedusa, has long been the starting point for refugees who decide to cross the Mediterranean Sea on their way to Europe.

Sub-Saharan refugees have increasingly complained about rising racist violence in the country since the country’s president, Kais Sajed, recently accused them of “they are undermining state institutions” and that with them “the demographic composition of Tunisia is changing”.

Many Tunisians soon after took to social media to accuse the president of overt racism and spreading right-wing conspiracy theories, and human rights organizations have since reported an increase in violence against black migrants in the country. On Wednesday, Sajed denied being a racist, according to AFP.

Regardless, many refugees from sub-Saharan Africa found themselves in a precarious situation in Tunisia. Many were left homeless overnight and are camping outside their countries’ embassies. Some also asked to return to their homeland.

The North African country otherwise hosts about 21,000 people without the necessary permits from other parts of Africa, which is just under 0.2 percent of the population. Italian authorities announced in February that more than 32,000 refugees arrived in Italy from Tunisia last year, including 18,000 Tunisians, while several thousand also came from neighboring Libya.

Source: Rtvslo

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