Tunisia’s Crackdown On Boat Crossings Forcing Many To Abandon European Dreams
It took Yanelle nearly two years and a huge amount of money to reach Tunisia from Cameroon. Forced by circumstances on the ground to take a circuitous route far longer than the 3,000 km between the two nations, the journey has taken an unimaginable toll on her.
Armed conflict and political instability in Cameroon forced the 39-year-old to embark on the trek. Yanelle’s gruelling journey ended at the top of Africa, just across the Mediterranean from Europe. But Tunisia’s crackdown on boat crossings has hampered her chances of making it out.
Tunisia’s Crackdown On Migrants And Smugglers
“If I could go back in time, I would never leave Cameroon,” the Guardian quoted Yanelle as saying. While making her way through Senegal, she was captured by human traffickers, who raped, abused and tortured her before she could escape, Yanelle noted.
From there, she headed to Kenya, then Guinea-Bissau and next to the Gambia. Deciding to leave the country after another terrible experience, she followed a friend’s advice to approach people smugglers, who took her through Mali, into Algeria until they reached Tunisia.
After finally entering Tunisia, Yanelle has accepted that Europe has never been further away. Having sought asylum in the country, she is now trying to recover with counselling offered at the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) shelter. But she isn’t alone.
Thousands like Yanelle leave behind countries where jobs are scarce, pay is low and crime rate is high to reach the top of Africa with their hearts set on Europe, a short but dangerous boat ride away. But Tunisian authorities’ crackdown on boat crossings has left many in limbo.
EU-Tunisia Pact In Peril As Saied Rejects Funding
In July, the European Union offered a $748 million deal to Tunisia to curb migration into Europe. That same month, Tunisia reportedly expelled hundreds of migrants into the desert borders with Libya. Dozens were apparently found dead before the survivors were offered shelters.
Although Kais Saied, the President of Tunisia, eventually rejected the deal with the bloc, his government continued its crackdown on African immigrants and people smugglers. Amid these tightening restrictions, the number of asylum seekers in the cash-strapped nation has risen.