Refugees on Tunisian-Libyan border: EP delegation calls for rapid action

EU Member States should do more to help in the resettlement of refugees from war-torn countries who are in camps in the Tunisian-Libyan border and cannot return to their homes, said a European Parliament (EP) delegation who visited Tunisia from 13 to 16 July 2011. The EU cannot turn a blind eye to the dramatic realities in these refugee camps, MEPs say.
The EP delegation visited two refugee camps last Thursday at the Tunisian-Libyan border. Shousha, the biggest refugee camp, situated 7 km from the border, currently hosts over 3,700 people from 22 different countries. The other camp, run by the United Arab Emirates, provides shelter for 740 people.
The delegation met with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and other humanitarian and relief organisations, and spoke directly to some of the refugees and their community leaders. They also met with the Tunisian Prime Minister and several Ministers on Friday.
Following the visits to the refugee camps, MEPs in the delegation said the visit had been an eye-opener, and they were struck by the harsh conditions people were facing.
“We were also struck by the overwhelming hospitality and solidarity of the Tunisian people keeping an open door policy to third country nationals who fled Libya,” they said in a statement, adding: “This is a lesson for EU Member States. We are disappointed with the weak response given by Member States… The EU should do more to help in the resettlement of refugees from war-torn countries who cannot return to their homes.”
They added: “Europe must address the challenges posed by this situation, particularly the treatment of refugees and humanitarian aid as well as the impact on migration towards Europe. The EU cannot turn a blind eye to these dramatic realities.”
“This is an international problem that requires an international response. Tunisia has just undergone its own revolution and faces sizable economic and social difficulties, especially given the unprecedented levels of unemployment among young people. The migration flows represent a further burden that ought to be shared”.
This is the second time that a European Parliament delegation has been to Tunisia in the last six months following the fall of Ben Ali's regime. (ENPI Info Centre)
Read more
Press release
European Council resource centre – free movement and migration
ENPI Info Centre webpage – migration
ENPI Info Centre webpage – Tunisia

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