Thousands of refu­gees from Tuni­sia have reached the Ita­li­an island of Lam­pe­du­sa. PRO ASYL deman­ds that boat peop­le are recei­ved in a huma­ne way, which needs to be sup­por­ted by Euro­pe. Given the ins­ta­ble situa­ti­on, app­li­ca­ti­ons for asyl­um need to be con­si­de­red care­ful­ly. In order to sup­port a demo­cra­tic tran­si­ti­on, ways for regu­lar migra­ti­on need to be established.

“The Euro­pean Uni­on now has the chan­ce to take the side of the pro-demo­cra­cy move­ment in nort­hern Afri­ca and of human rights. Having col­la­bo­ra­ted with cor­rupt dic­ta­tors in the regi­on for years, set­ting up an inhu­man regime of refu­gee deflec­tion, Euro­pe may not con­ti­nue this fatal and bigo­ted poli­cy against refu­gees and migrants”, says Karl Kopp, PRO ASYL’s direc­tor of Euro­pean Affairs.

The secu­ri­ty situa­ti­on in Tuni­sia remains unsta­ble. Shoo­tings around the pre­si­den­ti­al palace and the natio­nal bank were repor­ted during the wee­kend. It is still to be estab­lis­hed who holds power wit­hin the coun­try. In this con­ti­nuous­ly inse­cu­re situa­ti­on, Tuni­sians lea­ving their coun­try must not be retur­ned without assess­ment of their claims.

The revo­lu­tio­na­ry events in nort­hern Afri­ca bring to mind the fall of the “iron curtain” in 1989. Many peop­le from eas­tern Euro­pe made use of their new­ly found free­dom to lea­ve the cir­cum­s­tan­ces in their coun­tries behind. Howe­ver, the num­ber of migrants and refu­gees from the regi­on never reached num­bers of mil­li­ons as was fore­se­en then.

Ita­ly needs sup­port. Howe­ver, rhe­to­ric of emer­gen­cy is uncal­led for. Ita­ly has hel­ped the topp­led regime of Ben Ali for years to con­struct detenti­on cen­ters, and to seal off its bor­ders. In this con­text it beco­mes clear that the demand to deploy Ita­li­an poli­ce or a new Fron­tex mis­si­on in Tuni­sia, as sta­ted by the Ita­li­an Inte­rior Minis­ter, Rober­to Maro­ni, is seen as a pro­vo­ca­ti­on. A repre­sen­ta­ti­ve of the tran­si­to­ry Tuni­sian government, Taï­eb Bac­cou­che, has alrea­dy rebu­ked the pro­po­si­ti­on and cla­ri­fied its back­ground, cal­ling Mr. Maro­ni a figu­rehead of the extre­me and racist Ita­li­an right.

PRO ASYL’s posi­ti­on is that the call for demo­cra­tiz­a­ti­on in the regi­on needs to be backed up by a fun­da­men­tal revi­si­on of Europe’s coope­ra­ti­on with nort­hern Afri­can sta­tes. Tuni­sia needs every pos­si­b­ly sup­port the EU can offer on its way to Demo­cra­cy. This inclu­des mea­su­res of immedia­te huma­ni­ta­ri­an aid as well as an offer for regu­lar migra­ti­on programs.

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