Seven migrants from the Shousha refugee camp have been hospitalized since beginning a hunger strike March 29 in front of the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR) in Tunis, according to a representative from the group Refugees of the Shousha Camp.
Forty-one migrants from the camp, which is set to be closed in June, are protesting what they claim is an unjust plan to integrate them into Tunisian society.
After a member of the group collapsed yesterday, Tunisian Civil Protection forces refused to respond to the scene and the protester had to be taken to the hospital by taxi, Imad Mohammed, a representative of the refugees, told Tunisia Live.
The protesters will continue the hunger strike until the UNHCR takes action to resettle them in other countries, Mohammed said.
The integration plan fails “to take into account the significant exposure to discrimination and racist violence” which remains a reality of life in the Shousha camp, a statement from Refugees of the Shousha Camp claims. Such “discrimination also extends past the camp’s borders and into the public spaces; we find these violations present in hospitals, markets and within the public transport system.”
Mohammed said refugees are often beaten by security forces at the camp, which is located in southern Tunisia, around nine kilometers from the Libyan border.
The refugees are requesting to be resettled in other countries “because of the racism we face here in Tunis,” Mohammed said. “Even in the Tunisian hospitals we are treated badly.”
Until now, the refugees have received little response from the UNHCR, he continued. They held a press conference at the recent World Social Forum in Tunis but it failed to generate action.
The refugees were displaced by the conflict in neighboring Libya. Most were migrant workers hailing from countries such as Sudan, Somalia, Chad, Eritrea, and Ethiopia.
Tristan Dreisbach contributed reporting.