Today, Tuesday, Mali deemed “physical abuse, eviction of buildings and confiscation of property as unacceptable scenes” suffered by Malian immigrants in Tunisia during a meeting in Bamako attended by diplomats from the two countries. President Qais Said called on his government on 21 February to take “urgent action” against the illegal immigration of citizens from sub-Saharan Africa, saying their presence in Tunisia is a source of “violence, crime and unacceptable practices.”
Said denounced the influx of “hordes of illegal immigrants”, which he believed resulted from “a criminal conspiracy prepared since the beginning of this century to change the demographic composition of Tunisia” and make it “only an African country, not belonging to the Arab and Islamic peoples”.
After Said’s blunt speech, a number of NGOs and witnesses reported an escalation in attacks against African migrants in Tunisia.
In a statement, Mali Foreign Ministry Secretary General Seydou Coulibaly expressed the Malian government’s “grave concern” about the plight of immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa in general and its citizens in particular, including Malian students in Tunisia.
He also noted that the protection and security of millions of Tunisians is the responsibility of the Tunisian authorities and called on the Tunisian government to “take the necessary measures to ensure the physical safety” of its citizens and “protect their property”.
In a statement Friday, Mali’s embassy in Tunisia urged its citizens to “calm down and be vigilant,” asking “those who wish to register for voluntary return.”
On Monday, during a meeting in Bamako, the Tunisian charge d’affaires noted “the efforts of the Tunisian authorities to ensure calm” in this direction, emphasizing “the need to work together for legal migration.”
The statement also indicated that the foreign ministers of the two countries had a telephone conversation “on the same issue.”
In an interview with Agence France-Presse, Tunisian Foreign Minister Nabil Ammar said on Monday that his country was calling for “calm” without apologizing for the Tunisian president’s stance.