Unwanted Refugees

by Tom Szustek

Choucha camp, Tunisia, 7km from the Tunisian-Libyan border accommodates about 5 thousands African refugees who fled from Libya. The camp is run by UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) with substantial help from  NGO-s.

Despite efforts and good will to ensure good conditions, refugees suffer from the lack of drinkable water and complain about poor quality food. No security is provided in the camp at the night time. Most of the refugees cannot return to their war-torn homelands. Western countries are unwilling to accept them.

On May 22nd, 2011, tragic fire broke out in the camp claimed 4 lives. Desperate African refugees started a protest against conditions in the camp by blocking the road to the crossing border point in Ras Ajdir. Security forces violently crackdown on protesters. Most of the camp was looted, destroyed or burned during 3 days of unrest in the camp. Groups of refugees of different nationalities were fighting on each other, local Tunisians and army soldiers took part in these fightings as well.

Western journalists present at the scene were beaten by security forces and local Tunisians. Recording equipment was temporarily confiscated.