Burkina Faso moves citizens from Tunisia after racist attacks

Thursday March 16 2023
African students at a university campus in Tunisia

African students at a university campus in Tunisia on March 13, 2023. There has been a spate of racist attacks after comments by Tunisian President Kais Saied about illegal migration. PHOTO | FETHI BELAID | AFP



Dozens of Burkinabe citizens fleeing a surge of racist attacks in Tunisia arrived in Ouagadougou on a government-chartered plane on Wednesday, an AFP reporter saw.

Violence in Tunisia erupted after Tunisian President Kais Saied last month blamed "hordes of illegal migrants from sub-Saharan Africa" for most of the crime in the country, and alleged there was a "criminal plot" to change the nation's demographic make-up.

On Wednesday, emotional relatives joined by members of the government welcomed the 64 passengers to Burkina Faso's capital.

Government minister Karamoko Jean Marie Traore said it was "the responsibility of our government to look out for the security and well-being of its citizens", adding that "other groups" could return by the same means.

Not easy


Inoussa Guiebre, one of the repatriated citizens who had spent 17 months in Tunisia doing small jobs, said that living in Tunisia "wasn't easy".

"We suffered a lot. We lost our jobs and we were chased from our homes," he said.

He said people slept for 17 days in Burkina Faso's embassy before returning, and that his "adventure" in Tunisia was over.

Other West African nations like Guinea, Mali and Ivory Coast have also organised repatriation flights for their citizens in Tunisia since Saied's incendiary remarks.

Saied has also ordered officials to take "urgent measures" to tackle irregular migration.