Côte d’Ivoire has launched procedures for the introduction of a visa with Tunisia, the departure country for thousands of sub-Saharan migrants wishing to reach Europe, the Ivorian government spokesman announced on Thursday.
We “have contacted the Tunisian government to re-establish visas between our countries. Diplomatic procedures are underway”, declared Amadou Coulibaly, at the end of a Council of Ministers meeting.
“This is an immigration-related issue. Many migrants pass through Tunisia and given that it is claimed that many Ivorians are among the candidates for immigration, by introducing the visa, we are in a way resolving this problem”, he added.
Tunisia, along with Libya, is the main departure point for thousands of migrants crossing the central Mediterranean to Europe, arriving in Italy. Thousands of migrants, most of them sub-Saharan nationals, are camped north of Sfax in Tunisia, awaiting a crossing to Italy.
Since January 2023, Ivorians have been the second most represented nationality among sub-Saharan nationals arriving in Italy, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). They account for 12.6%, after Guineans (13.4%) and ahead of Tunisians (10.6%) and Egyptians (7.3%).
Until now, no entry visa was required for Ivorian nationals in Tunisia. Beyond the three months authorized for entry, they had to pay penalties of up to 40 dinars (12 euros) per week of irregular stay.
The procedures for introducing a visa “in a way call into question the old relations we had with Tunisia, which had militated precisely for the abolition of these visas”, concluded Mr. Coulibaly, remaining nevertheless “convinced” that this was a “conjunctural situation”.
According to Côte d’Ivoire’s ambassador to Tunisia, 1,530 Ivorians have been repatriated to their country since Tunisian President Kais Saied’s inflammatory speech against illegal migrants in February.
Some had lost their homes and often informal jobs.