Press Release concerning the Hungerstrike
Solidarity with Fighting Refugees in Choucha / Tunisia
Forty-one sub-Saharan refugees from the Shousha camp knocked on the doors of the influential World Social Forum demanding human dignity. The lack of recognition and concrete solutions encouraged them to collectively start a hunger strike in front of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) offices in Tunis on March 29th 2013, putting their health – already very fragile – in grave danger.
The twelfth World Social Forum has just ended its Tunisian edition which was held from March 26th to March 30th 2013 with the blessing of the Tunisian authorities and numerous international NGOs. “Dignity” was the slogan of this gathering of NGOs, trade unions, along with Tunisian and international civil society. I would now like to draw your attention to the following urgent situation.
Dignity is also the claim of forty-one sub-Saharan refugees from the Shousha camp. Despite the great risk of being arrested and assaulted by the National Guard, which unfortunately has already occured on March 3rd 2013 at Aram near Gabés, this large refugee camp remains located in Southern Tunisia, just 9 kilometers away from the Libyan border.
The courageous act to collectively go on a hunger strike in front of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Tunis was put forward on March 29th 2013. While the closing of this provisional Shousha camp is scheduled for June 2013, this group of refugees assert their human dignity and therefore refuse the unjust integration program that Tunisia has imposed on them. Unfortunately It does not take into account the significant exposure to discrimination and racist violence which remains to be a constant reality in the Shousha camp. These discriminations also extend past the camps borders and into the public spaces; we find these violations present in hospitals, markets and within the public transport system. Following these countless human rights injustices two refugees were subsequently killed and seven others were injured in May 2011.
“I would rather die now than live without dignity,” wrote the group in a public statement. After living in situations of extreme violence, submission and instability on Tunisian soil following their hasty evacuation from Libya, these men, women and children called out to Humanitarian organizations to defend their human rights and dignity so as to not become a “second-class human” consequently left behind waiting for a possible future law on refugees in Tunisia.
“Two years of suffering” in conditions of misery and torment in extreme weather conditions and they have just a single demand: that of seeing their files sent to resettlement countries and benefiting from an effective protection system – similar to other refugees in order to finally be treated “as human beings.”
We would be grateful to see this information in your columns, we remain at your disposal for any further information,
Three refugees were taken to the hospital on Wednesday April 3rd, 2013. They are now added to one other person already hospitalized since Sunday March 31st 2013. Tunisian Civil Protection refused to come and rescue these three individuals who finally had to be brought to the hospital by means of a taxi.
Refugees in Choucha Hunger Strike: 00216 27 41 558 , choucha[at]riseup.net