Call for Tunisia to respect its international commitments and for the establishment of an effective asylum system

Tunis, 04 June 2019

EuroMed Rights and the signatory organisations wish to reinforce their support for the organisations that have already expressed their deepest concerns about the situation of the blockage off the coast of Zarzis. The issue is part of a broader political context: the absence of a real reception system in Tunisia and the manifest violation of the rights of migrants in a vulnerable situation.

The lack of a sustainable and inclusive system for the reception and protection of asylum-seekers and other migrants rescued at the sea who are suffering of an extreme vulnerability is particularly acute. There are delays observed, once again, in providing relief and assistance to the 75 survivors (64 Bangladeshis, 9 Egyptians, one Moroccan and one Sudanese, including 32 unaccompanied minors), currently on board of the vessel Maridive 601. This lack of action was also confirmed for the management of the situation of the 40 survivors rescued by Sarost 5 (July 2018) who roamed for 5 days at sea and were finally allowed to disembark after two weeks of waiting.

The unstable and partial solutions advocated, on a case-by-case basis, by the Tunisian authorities and international organisations and the foreseeable increase in the number of migrants and asylum seekers fleeing the situation in Libya, especially in the last quarter of 2018, are a serious danger to an already vulnerable people. This situation violates all relevant international legal conventions on the subject, including the law of the sea and assistance to persons in distress.

Even today, the competent authorities have authorized only minimal humanitarian aid to the people who are still on board the boat, raising fears that this situation, unworthy of a democratic country, will continue, as it was in July 2018.

EuroMed Rights and the signatory organisations call for the immediate disembarkation at the port of Zarzis for urgent medical and humanitarian care. They also call on the Tunisian authorities and relevant international organisations to act with the utmost diligence on behalf of these people rescued at sea (medical assistance, housing, psychological support, rapid examination of asylum applications, etc.). Finally, the media coverage of the case should comply with the respect for personal data and children’s rights.

They also reiterate their urgent call for :

– The adoption of a national law and protection system for asylum seekers and refugees, in accordance with international commitments;

– A commitment by the Tunisian authorities to develop a sustainable humanitarian management strategy and effective coordination with other actors concerned by the international protection system by establishing a transparent communication mechanism;

– The inclusion of the various components of Tunisian civil society for a joint consultation to fill the gaps in migration management in Tunisia;

– The establishment of an adequate protection mechanism for minors, by designating the regional delegation for child protection as a focal point;

– The reminder of the international commitments incumbent on Tunisia in consultation with IOM, UNHCR and the Tunisian Red Crescent to put in place a transparent and truly sustainable emergency management strategy.
Signatories :

Ligue Tunisienne des droits de l’Homme (LTDH)

Forum Tunisien pour les Droits Economiques et Sociaux (FTDES)

Comité pour le Respect des Libertés et des Droits de l’Homme (CRLDHT)

Le Centre de Tunis pour la Migration et l’Asile (CETUMA)


L’association tunisienne de défense des droits de l’enfant (ATDDE)

Association citoyenneté et libertés (ACL)

Association Pour les Etudes sur La Population, La Migration Et La Société (ASPOMIS)

Association pour la Leadership et le Développement en Afrique (ALDA)

Collège Méditerranéen pour la Recherche Scientifique (CMRS)

Citoyenneté, Développement, Cultures et Migrations des deux Rives (CDCMIR)

Tunisian Association for Management and Social Stability (TAMSS)