Crescent Kashmir

Migrants found dead near Tunisia’s border with Algeria

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TUNIS: The bodies of two migrants have been found in a desert region near Tunisia’s border with Algeria, a judicial official and a witness said on Tuesday.

Hundreds of migrants from sub-Saharan countries have fled or been forced out of Tunisia’s port city of Sfax after racial tensions flared following the July 3 killing of a Tunisian man in an altercation between locals and migrants.

Many have been left to fend for themselves in harsh conditions in remote desert areas near Tunisia’s borders with Algeria and with Libya.

Around 10 days ago one body was found in the Hazoua desert, near Algeria’s border, and another was discovered on Monday night, Nizar Skander, a spokesman for the court in the south-eastern Tozeur district, said.

“Both bodies are of men, and rescuers have recovered the one found yesterday,” a witness, who declined to be identified for security reasons, added.

The witness, a local merchant, said that in one week two convoys were seen transporting migrants to the desert, with nearly 100 left in the vicinity of Hazoua.

“Many of these migrants are trying to reach oases in the area where residents give them food and water,” the witness said.

Skander said the authorities have launched a “dubious death” investigation to determine the exact cause of the two fatalities.

Youssouf Bilayer, 25, of Ivory Coast, said on Tuesday that he was arrested on July 4 in Sfax where he had worked for four years as a welder and was taken to the Gafsa area near the border with Algeria.

“We were in six buses and they left us in the forest — they made us get out by beating us,” he said. His group of six people was now moving northwards.

Published in Dawn, July 12th, 2023

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