Tunis/Tunisia — The Tunisian forum for economic and social rights (FTDES) asked the Tunisian authorities to "answer the distress call" of 40 illegal immigrants, of African nationalities, stuck for 13 days aboard a boat, to dock at the port of Zarziz, in the governorate of Medenine, and receive the necessary medical and psychological help.
In a statement released Thursday night, the forum focuses on "the difficult human situation" of these immigrants who are of Somali and Egyptian nationality and who were rescued after an engine failure off Zarzis. He said the boat was forced to sail to Zarzis, but was not allowed to enter the port, although some of the passengers needed medical and psychological care.
"Europe is devoting the fait accompli policy of immigrant reception platforms in Tunisia by refusing to open its doors to these immigrants and by imposing a systematic policy of sanctions against all those who take part in rescue operations, through restrictions on the action of rescue boats of humanitarian organizations, "writes the forum.
He condemned in this respect the "inhuman policies of the States of the European Union refusing to assume the legal and human responsibility with regard to illegal immigrants and rescue operations in the sea that have led to hundreds of drownings since the beginning of the year".
The forum called on European countries to respect international maritime search and rescue agreements and the maritime law they signed, saying that "the human cost of European migration policies is a continuing real tragedy and they express rejection of international laws and conventions at the risk of leading to new human catastrophes in the Mediterranean ".
For his part, chairman of the section of the Tunisian red crescent in Medenine, Mongi Slim, told TAP correspondent, that the immigrants "are still blocked 45 minutes from the port of Zarzis, near the platform oil factory whose workers had rescued them on July 15th. "
He said the Tunisian authorities have provided medical care to immigrants who have contracted scabies on three occasions, including two pregnant women.
Mongi Slim has called for "ending the cleavage of these immigrants and making a decision on them from Tunisia, Italy or Malta".
He had previously said that the refusal of Tunisia to allow the boat to dock at the port of Zarzis "came in response to the refusal of Italy and other European countries to accommodate the rescue boats."
The Italian authorities have closed their ports to these rescue boats in the Mediterranean, as part of a new government measure that demands a burden-sharing with European countries for the reception of clandestine immigrants, rescued almost daily in the Mediterranean.
The Italian government had even rejected the financial privileges proposed by the EU to rescue immigrants (7000 Euros for each immigrant welcomed), in addition to taking care of hundreds of experts to help deal with the problem of people coming mainly from Africa to seek asylum in Europe.
"We do not ask for charitable donations because each asylum seeker costs the Italian taxpayer 40 to 50 thousand euros," said new Italian Minister of the Interior Matteo Salvini to justify this new migration policy.