The Senegalese government has repatriated 76 of its citizens from Tunisia and neighboring Libya following recent controversial comments by Tunisian President Kais Saied.
Last month, President Saied claimed that the presence of immigrants in Tunisia was a threat to the North African country’s national security.
He claimed that “the hordes” of illegal immigrants posed a threat to Tunisia’s security and that a “criminal enterprise” was trying to change the country’s “demographic composition”. The comments triggered a wave of violence against sub-Saharan Africans.
The Senegalese government opened a crisis unit and a registry to identify returnees.
Of the 172 Senegalese citizens living in Tunisia and Libya, 76 have been repatriated by the national airline, Air Senegal, according to a statement by the Senegalese Foreign Ministry published on social media.
Officials did not provide any details on the exact number of persons repatriated from any country. There was also no explanation as to why the Senegalese nationals living in Libya were repatriated.
Senegal’s move follows swift action by other African countries to repatriate their citizens living in Tunisia, notably in recent weeks to repatriate hundreds of citizens from Ivory Coast, Mali and Guinea to their home countries. Charter flights have been scheduled.
Unlike its neighbors, however, Senegal has taken a more prudent approach to the repatriation of its citizens from Tunisia and Libya.
Macky Sall, the President of Senegal, recently disclosed that he had met President Saied to discuss a range of issues.
“We discussed issues of common interest” AFP reported him as saying. “I appreciated the appeasement measures taken by him in the context of the current situation.”
Saied’s comments were widely condemned on social media and by non-governmental organisations, including the African Union (AU), which urged Tunisia to refrain from “racial hate speech”.
In a statement last month the AU said: “The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, His Excellency Moussa Faki Mahamat, strongly condemns the shocking statement issued by the Tunisian authorities that targets fellow Africans who live by the letter and spirit of our organization and founding principles.” go against.”