After the collapse of the Libyan regime in 2011, hundreds of forced inhabitants moved to Tunisia and found refuge in UNHCR’s Choucha camp, where they waited for their asylum requests to be processed. According to various reports from Tunisian and human rights organizations, irregularities and malpractice in the RSD procedure occurred. On 30 June 2013, the camp was officially closed. Until now, however, many of the recognized refugees who could not be resettled and more than 70 refused asylum seekers remain in the camp, living in the desert in inhuman conditions without access to basic needs and facilities.
In the past four years the refugees living in the camp have been fighting with several associations in many ways to pressure the UNHCR to assume their responsibility towards them by granting them resettlement in a safe third country with an effective asylum system. Until now the UNHCR has refused to reopen their case and to fulfill their demands.
In the context of the WSF 2015 people representing various international organizations and individuals from the civil society came together with the refugees to discuss and find ways to solve the Choucha issue. Based on the experience of the previous fights and the testimonies of the refugees we came to the consent that any further action has to include these three main conditions:
Resettlement to a safe third country with an effective refugee/asylum protection system
Integration in Tunisia is not an option as Tunisia is not able to guarantee safety and decent living conditions
All kind of support to the cause should be focused on resettlement, as it is our only aim. Any further help (material, medical, basic needs) is an individual choice but not a long-term and effective political solution.
The World Social Forum is a place of exchange of ideas, where causes can be shared and alternatives to the present system can be developed. But the World Social Forum only succeeds if concrete actions come to practice and real initiatives are taken. The 2013 Forum was not able to bring the Choucha struggle to an end. This time, we need to bring our forces together to start fighting.
We are convinced that so far the UNHCR has not taken its responsibilities and had not used all its power to come to a satisfying solution. Instead, it has made mistakes in the procedures and has deliberately abandoned the refugees.
In order to expose the errors of the UNHCR and pressure them to reopen the case, we need legal support by competent activists or entities. Therefore, we make an open call to all associations, organizations, decision makers and individuals to join us.
Put an end to the Choucha struggle. Resettlement now!