Tripoli, 10 June 2013:
The Choucha refugee camp on the Tunisian-Libyan border will close as planned on 30 June, despite protests from those living in the camp, according to the Tunisian news agency TAP.
Since 2011 the camp has housed mainly sub-Saharan African refugees, who fled from Libya to neighbouring Tunisia after the outbreak of the revolution.
Some 2,800 refugees from the camp have been resettled, including 195 who started new lives in Germany. Those who remain in the camp will now be part of a local integration programme in Tunisia, according to a Facebook page created by refugees living in the Choucha camp.
A spokesperson for the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR said, in March this year, that it was time to give refugees “a more appropriate form of life, beyond the living conditions of the camp.”
However, refugees still living in the camp, some of whom returned there after suffering discrimination in new accommodation in the Tunisian town of Madenine, are campaigning for Choucha to remain open until an appropriate solution has been reached.
They reject the local integration programme, claiming it is being imposed upon them. In a statement released on their Facebook page, refugees say that they have suffered verbal and physical abuse from some Tunisians, including members of the police. They also point out that Tunisia is not yet stable and has no laws protecting or guaranteeing the rights of refugees.
They have staged several protests, including one in front of the EU delegation building in Tunis, and some refugees have been on hunger strike.