Choucha Refugee Camp to Close, Leaving Hundreds of Residents in Limbo
Choucha camp, the Tunisian refugee camp established in 2011 to house those fleeing the Libyan conflict, is set to close this Sunday. After two years of occupying tents under the harsh desert sun, the camp’s 443 remaining refugees and asylum seekers face limited options.
The UNHCR has offered these individuals the option of integration into local Tunisian society, however, approximately 50 percent of them have refused integration, according to Dalia al-Achi, UNHCR Regional Public Information Officer.
UNHCR officials have stressed their commitment to providing services for the refugees and asylum seekers that fall under the organization’s mandate, insisting that moving from the camp to local Tunisian society would enhance their quality of life.
“People have the option of moving to areas where conditions are better, and their dignity would be more respected, but this is their choice,” al-Achi explained to Tunisia Live.
But those refugees refusing integration say the situation is reversed.
“Either you accept the local integration without dignity, or you die in the camp with your dignity. So, we choose to die in the camp with our dignity,” Emad, a 25 year-old Choucha resident originally from Sudan, told Tunisia Live on Thursday.
These individuals are demanding that they be resettled into third countries instead of being integrated into Tunisia. They insist on remaining in the camp after it is set to be closed, despite the fact that all UNHCR food, water, and medical services will be cut-off on June 30.
Another 260 of the camp’s inhabitants, categorized as “rejected asylum seekers,” find themselves in more dire straits. Falling outside of the UNHCR’s mandate, they are not entitled to the integration services that the organization is prepared to offer refugees and asylum seekers.
The last time that rejected asylum seekers received food distribution was in October 2012.
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From the Chouchaprotest-Blog:
However, the situation in Choucha Camp has further aggravated yesterday, as the military emptied all the water tanks. The refugees declare: “Today the UNHCR cut all the water sources from the Shousha refugees including women and children and old people. So today the UNHCR decided to leave the refugees to die in the desert because they refuse to go to tunisian cties. So what kind of humanity is this or because no one cares about?!”
Around 400 to 500 persons are now left in the Camp, not only without water, but also without food, money and medical service. The hygienic conditions are getting worse and worse, as the garbage is not being taken away. Inspite of the UNHCRs declaration, that there would be no violent push-out of the camp, these messures are violence to the people! Surviving under these conditions is physically and psychologically damaging and weakening. It is a human rights catastrophe to cut the basic needs to a group of vulnerable migrants!
more information: chouchaprotest.noblogs.org