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Refugees in Tunisia on Hungerstrike at UNHCR - Solidarity Mail Campaign (vom 06.04.2013),
URL: http://no-racism.net/article/4434/, besucht am 11.08.2022

[06. Apr 2013]

Refugees in Tunisia on Hungerstrike at UNHCR - Solidarity Mail Campaign

Since 29th of March 2013, refugees from the Choucha Refugee Camp are in hunger strike in front of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) offices in Tunis. They demand fundamental rights like a safe place to stay, access to food and medical care. The protesters will continue the hunger strike until the UNHCR takes action to resettle them in other countries.

The UNHCR refugee camp Choucha is located in the Tunesian desert, close to the Libyan border. More than 1300 people from 13 different countries, predominately from Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Chad and Nigeria, still languish in the Choucha camp, which the UNHCR wants to close in June 2013 at the latest. Most of them are waiting for resettlement. About 400 people have been recognized as refugees, but did not get access to the resettlement program, because they arrived after December 2011, when the procedures were terminated. The UNHCR wants to integrate these refugees locally in Tunisia using funds which were donated by the German government rather than allowing them to go to Europe - a perfect example of the EU carrying out its policy of externalizing refugee management!

The refugees are adressing the UNHCR to finish their job. They demanding resettlement to a country with an asylum system. They do not feel safe in Tunisia and were not awarded a legal status, because Tunisia does not yet have laws concerning asylum.

More than 200 people, who have been denied the status of refugees because of procedures that included inappropriate interpreters and other flaws, are now deprived of food and basic services in Choucha camp and separated from people recognized as refugees. The UNHCR declared itself not to be responsible for these people and puts pressure on them to leave the camp and go back to their countries of origin or to Libya, where they are threatened by persecution.

Since November 2012, the refugees have been living without any food and medical support. Since beginning of April 2013, even the water and electricity supply in Choucha camp stopped, because the UNHCR stopped paying for the bills.

On 29th of March 2013, a group of 41 refugees from Choucha camp started a protest in Tunis. They are staying in front of the UNHCR office in Tunis without eating. The UNHCR considers the protesters as refugees, but refuses them to leave Tunisia via the Resettlement program. The protesters are sleeping rough outdoors without any shelter, refuse to eat anything and only drink water until their demand - Resettlement to a third country with working protection systems for all of them - is met.

Instead of fulfilling the refugees demands and doing their job, the responsible people of the Tunisian UNHCR ordered their staff that nobody should talk with the refugees or other people in front of the building.

In the meanwile, the situation of the hunger strikers is getting worse. It is very hot during the day, but there is cold temperatures in the night and occasional rain. After few days of hungerstrike already some people collapsed and the ambulance came to bring them to a hospital. On 3rd of April no ambulance came when two more people collapsed. It was told that ambulances will no longer take refugees on hungerstrike to a hospital. So the two people were brought by taxi to a hospital. On the next day, the ambulance came again.

It is very urgent to get more support for the Choucha refugees in order to brake the UNHCRs ignorance towards the collapsing people in front of their office! It is time for the UNHCR to acknowledge the Refugees demands!

Following you can find information about an email campaign for individuals and groups to forward it to the UNHCR. The situation is very urgent, so please forward the following:


Hungerstrike in front of the UNHCR / Tunis - several Refugees in Hospital


As you probably acknowledge, recognized Refugees from Choucha Refugee Camp have been on hungerstrike in front of the UNHCR office in Tunis since Friday, the 29.03.2013. I am writing to you, as I am very worried about the state of health of these persons and think that it is UNHCRs responsability to urgently find a solution for them.

Furthermore, I learned that the Camp will close at the end of May 2013. Those Refugees will then take part of an "Integration Programme", in some southern cities in Tunisia. This integration of Refugees in the tunisian society already gave signs of failure, as the protest of the Refugees, that had been "integrated" in Medenine, in front of the UNHCR office in Zarzis showed already. They were attacked verbally and physically by locals because of their skin colour and religious beliefs. They do not feel safe in Tunisia and they want a real and effective protection system.

They have been recognized as Refugees by the UNHCR, thus it is clear that they are in need of international protection. Apparently, Tunisia is at this moment unable to assure this security due to post-revolution unrests and the lack of a functioning asylum system.

According to UNHCR policy, Refugees arriving at Choucha Camp before 01.12.2011 had the right to be included into the Resettlement Programme. Many within this group have arrived after this date because they were not allowed to enter Tunisia, although they had already passed the Libyan border. This should not be hold against them and determine their
future.

I support the demand of the refugees in hungerstrike, to be resettled to a third country with working protection systems for refugees!

As the Situation is getting more serious from day to day and numbers of hungerstriking Refugees have been taken to hospital already, I urge the UNHCR to take action right away in order to find a safe solution for these persons, taking in account the hungerstrikers condition at this very moment!


-> Adresses:

UNHCR Tunis
tuntu (at) unhcr.org
HOREKENS (at) unhcr.org
nuri (at) unhcr.org
cardinali (at) unhcr.org

UNHCR Germany and Austria
gfrbe (at) unhcr.org
gfrnu (at) unhcr.org
ausvi (at) unhcr.org

UNHCR Geneve (headquarter)
fax number: +41 22 739 7377


Please send your support letters also to caracolcita (at) riseup.net and choucha (at) riseup.net.