25th November – Actions in Tunis, Wiesbaden, Mainz and Bremen

On Monday, 25th of November, first avtions took place in Tunis, Bremen (Germany), Mainz (Germany) an Wiesbaden (Germany) – further actions are planned for the coming week during the conference of interior ministers of Germany in Osnabrück. A Hearing with a refugee that has been resettled from Choucha to Germany is scheduled.
In Tunis the protest was carried out by 45 refugees from the desert camp Choucha – 30 arrived directly from Choucha, 15 had already bin engaged in the Sit-In for the past 6 months in front of the UNHCR-offices in Tunis. Their protest started at 10 am, an hour later one of the activists coul pass over the open letter to a representative of the German Ambassy. During the conversation the representative prooved not being very enthusiastic about the cause of the visit. She referred to the Syrian refugees, that had to be prioritized in the resettlement programme. But she accepted the open letter and promise to forward it to Berlin. At the end of the conversation, she wished the refugees succes. The atmosphere among the refugees was happy and satisfied, as they had been able to talk to a representative of the German ambassy, which had been denied to them in previous attempts.


At the same time in Mainz and Wiesbaden, the capitals of two federal states of Germany, a couple of activists from different organisations handed over the same open letter to representatives of the federal interior ministries, pointing out the urgent need of further resettlement slots for the remaining persons in Choucha.

In Bremen, another feder state, a small demonstration took place in front of the building of the Interior Senator. At the beginning the open letter and fotos from Choucha were handed over to the Interior Senator in person. A personal conversation was set for next week. To the public the development of the Choucha Camp since the Libyan crisis was explained. Afterwards a refugee that had formerly lived in Choucha and has been resettled to Germany in 2012, talked about his very exhausting flight from Eritrea, his 4 years in Libyan prisons and how he was able to get to Germany. Furthermore a representative of the Lampedusian refugees in Hamburg spoke as well as a representative of the refugee council Bremen. As the 25th of November was the international day against violence against women, an appeal published by the group “Women in Exile” was read out loud, broaching the issue of women and children in refugee camps.

Posted in General | Leave a comment

Open letter to the Ministers of Interior of the German Federal States and the Federal Republic of Germany

To the Ministers of Interior of the German Federal States and the Federal Republic of Germany

Open escape routes – Prevent more deaths!
A solution for the remaining refugees in Choucha camp / Tunisia

Appeal concerning the Conference of the Ministers of Interior on the 4th/5th of December 2013 in Osnabrueck
On the 193th session of the Ministers of Interior of the German Federal States (IMK) on the 8th/9th December 2011 in Wiesbaden, a program for the permanent resettlement of refugees from North Africa in Germany was adopted. In the decision “the IMK recommends to take in during the next three years every year 300 refugees.” On the 5th of April 2012, an order of the Interior Minister of Germany followed to take in certain people who had fled to Choucha (Tunisia). 201 people from this desert camp, who had escaped the war in Libya, could finally come to Germany in September 2012 and were distributed to the Federal States (find it here).
This decision was the result of appeals of the UNHCR as well as human rights and refugees organizations, among them Afrique-Europe-Interact, PRO ASYL and medico international, who had in May 2011 published the appeal “Open escape routes, take in refugees! – Voices from Choucha” PRO Asyl appreciated at that time the decision “as a step into the right direction, but it is too small. (…) Only for 2012, UNHCR needs about 172.000 places for resettlement worldwide. An urgent solution is especially needed for the problem of the Subsaharan refugees who – after fleeing or being driven out of Libya – are still in Choucha camp on the Tunisian side of the border and cannot go back to their countries of origin” (citation from here).
In the late autumn 2013, about 400 people are still living in Choucha camp which was officially closed, among them children and sick people – according to UNHCR and IOM (International Organization for Migration) 135 recognized refugees and 262 rejected asylum seekers. Provision of food, water, medical care and electricity was stopped by UNHCR at the end of June 2013, all facilities have been destroyed. Refugees are now desperately trying to stop passing cars in order to beg for water and food.
Holding out in Choucha camp and staging a sit-in for already more than six months now at the UNHCR office in Tunis, the refugees are demanding to find a durable solution in countries with effective asylum systems. “Local integration”, which is offered by UNHCR, does not work and there is no legal frame for it. Until now, it is not clear when and if the resident permits will be actually issued and whether they will effectively stop deportations and police harassment. Furthermore, locally integrated refugees do not have the right to family reunion. Promised support in daily life, like help to find jobs, and free accommodation have not materialized, so that refugees have to find, and pay for, their rooms from the little money they receive only for a short time. The situation in Tunisia remains instable. Politically motivated murders and the lack of economic development has lead to a lack of security for Tunisians, even more for refugees and other people from Subsaharan Africa, who in addition, face daily experience of racism. Racist tendencies in the Tunisian society increase with the competition for almost not existing working places.
Rejected asylum seekers, who cannot go back to their countries of origin because of political and/or social reasons, accuse UNHCR of grave mistakes in their procedures, which lead to their rejection. In some cases, interpreters were employed who came from the other side of a conflict in their countries of origin. Also the procedures were often done in a hurry and by staff without experiences. (find more information here)
Desperately seeking a better life, some of the refugees signed up for local integration, but have taken the money from the UNHCR to pay for the clandestine passage on boats across the Mediterranean, putting their lives in danger (See talks with refugees in Choucha camp and http://taz.de/Sudanese-ueber-Flucht/!124946/).
On the 3rd of October, more than 300 people died, after a boat with hundreds of people sank off the coast of the Italian island of Lampedusa. Politicians called upon EU Member States to “show solidarity both with migrants and with countries that are experiencing increasing migratory flows” (C. Malmström), and the Pope called what happened near Lampedusa “a shame”. More and more people demand to open legal escape routes in order to prevent the deaths of more people, instead of closing Europe’s borders.
In contrast to the EU Council, in which – among other states – Germany blocked decisions to change the policy of taking in refugees, the EU Parliament decided on the 23rd of October 2013: “Member States to take measures to enable asylum seekers to access the Union asylum system in a safe and fair manner” and to address acute needs through resettlement in addition to existing national quotas and through humanitarian admission.6
The remaining refugees in Choucha and in front of the UNHCR office in Tunis are known by their names to UNHCR and authorities. Their desperation is increasing with the coming winter. UNHCR and European governments will at least partly be guilty of the deaths of these people, if they are not offered a human solution and they do not see any other way than risking their lives by taking boats towards Europe.
That is why we demand from the Ministers of Interior of the German Federal States:
To take in the remaining refugees from Choucha camp immediately to Germany in the context of the resettlement program adopted by the IMK;
In view of the dramatic situation in North Africa and other countries of origin and transit of refugees and of thousands of deaths on the Mediterranean, to increase the number of places to take in refugees in Germany;
On the Federal and EU level, to speak up for a save access to Europe, e.g. also by applications at German Embassies in other countries, on sea and at borders.
During the coming days, refugees from Choucha camp in Tunisia will ask for an appointment at the German Embassy in Tunis in order to demand – as refugees from war – access to a country, where they can live safely. We ask the German Ministers of Interior to speak up for the access of these refugees to the German Embassy in Tunis and to offer them – e.g. in the context of the resettlement program of the IMK – a perspective of real protection, which is not possible in Tunisia because of the instable situation. By providing such a solution, Germany could at least contribute a little bit to prevent more deaths at the EU borders.

Posted in General | Leave a comment

Press release of the network “Choucha Protest Solidarity”, September 23rd 2013

Hundreds of Refugees left to die in the Tunisian desert

Choucha Refugee Camp at the Tunisian-Libyan border, hosting refugees fleeing the war in Libya, was officially closed on 30.06.2013. The eviction of the hundreds of remaining refugees is due to be carried out in the coming weeks.

Members of the network “Choucha Protest Solidarity” visited the Choucha refugee camp at the end of August 2013. There are still around 400 refugees – according to IOM and UNHCR, 262 rejected asylum seekers and 135 recognized refugees who do not have access to the previously closed resettlement program – living in extremely hard conditions, among them families, children and ill people. Access to food, water, medical care and electricity has been cut off by UNHCR, who was managing the camp. Refugees are now desperately trying to stop passing cars, begging for food and water. The camp looks like a battlefield, as most of the facilities have been destroyed by the NGOs before the camp closure and tents are being torn into pieces by strong desert wind. In order to earn some money, people are trying to work as daily workers in the nearby city of Ben Guerdane, although these jobs are miserably paid and the competition with Tunisian workers is very high. Without the assistance of the NGOs, the remaining refugees are not only left alone with all sorts of problems and deprived from any perspective for a normal life, but also feel insecure in the deserted border region.

Holding out in Choucha camp, the refugees are demanding that the UNHCR find durable solutions in countries with effective asylum systems for all of them, because “local integration” in Tunisia, offered by UNHCR, does not work. Rejected asylum seekers accuse UNHCR of grave mistakes in their procedures, which lead to their rejection. Since they cannot return to their home countries, this group has no other choice than to stay in the camp – indicating that it is the UNHCRs responsibility to reopen their cases and find durable solutions for them, too.

But instead of responding to the demands of the refugees, the situation seems to be getting worse. At the end of August, the senior officer of the UNHCR office in Zarzis announced that the camp is due to be completely closed because the Tunisian government needs the territory. In case of an eviction the refugees fear violence from the military as in May 2011, when soldiers opened fire on them. This could be followed by deportation of rejected asylum seekers among the remaining refugees in the camp.

Both the rejected and the recognized refugees have been offered resident permits for Tunisia, although this information has not been passed to every single person in the camp and some of the refugees are still without information. Both the programme for rejected asylum seekers and accepted refugees have been announced without a clear legal framework. Until now it is not clear when and if the resident permits will be actually issued and whether they will effectively stop police harassment and deportations.

Furthermore, locally integrated refugees do not have the right to family reunion. Promised services such as assistance in daily life and free accommodation have not materialized, so that refugees have to find, and pay for, their rooms from the little money that they receive. In addition, it is said that the financial assistance will be stopped in the coming months. These are some of the reasons why most of the refugees and rejected asylum seekers are rejecting the pretended offer of local integration in Tunisia. Desperately seeking a better life, some of them signed up for local integration, but have taken the money from UNHCR to pay for the clandestine passage on boats across the Mediterranean, putting their lives in danger. Others have been carrying out a sit-in in front of the UNHCR offices in Tunis since March 26th 2013 which is still continuing in protest against local integration. They respond to the offer of local integration with the demand for resettlement for every remaining person.

The situation in Tunisia remains unstable. Politically motivated murders and the lack of economic development is mixed with distrust and dissatisfaction towards the government and has lead to a lack of security for Tunisians, even more so for foreigners, who in addition, face daily experience of racism. Political elites have failed to reach consensus over a constitution and even less so a set of laws for refugee protection. Therefore, local integration for refugees and asylum seekers cannot be considered a durable solution as UNHCR tries to portray.

On September 5th, a delegation of the network “Choucha Protest Solidarity” together with the protesting refugees in Tunis held meetings with the UNHCR and the EU delegation in Tunis, in order to discuss possible solutions for the remaining refugees. Meanwhile, a protest in front of the EU delegation was held.

According to UNHCR, most resettled refugees from Choucha have been taken by the United States (1,717) and Norway (485). The EU has granted little resettlement. Germany took – because of pressure from human rights and refugee organizations – the most refugees at 201, Britain took three, Italy two and France one.

We demand from the EU governments that they assume their responsibility following the war in Libya and accept the remaining refugees and asylum seekers from Choucha! Refugee protection must be more important than the political interest in externalizing EU borders!

Posted in General | Leave a comment

Protest in front of the EU-Delegation, Tunis

On September 5th, a delegation of the network “Choucha Protest Solidarity” together with the protesting refugees in Tunis held meetings with the UNHCR and the EU delegation in Tunis, in order to discuss possible solutions for the remaining refugees. Meanwhile, a protest in front of the EU delegation was held.


Posted in General | Leave a comment

Choucha refugees rescued from the Mediterranean

In the night of last monday to tuesday a boat with 83 passengers was
rescued by the tunisian Marine outside the southern city of Zarzis. As
the newspapers report, between the migrants that had left from Libya in
order to reach Italy, there were 70 Erythreens, 4 Soudanees, 5 Somalis,
3 Pakistanais and one Syrien. Two bodies were found dead. One woman gave
birth on the boat.
The migrants were brought to an “accomodation centre” of the Garde
Nationale in Ben Guerdane, before further steps are to be decided.

Supposedly, four of the migrants had formerly been to Choucha Camp and
had payed their trip with the 1500 Dinars that were handed out to them
by the UNHCR. This money is said to cover the costs for renting a house
in southern Tunisia in order to join the local integration programme,
while it is just the amount that covers the fees for the boats. The fact
that recognized refugees risk their lives on clandestine boats with the
direct financiation of the UNHCR demonstrates clearly the failure of the
UNHCRs mission in Choucha Camp, Tunisia. If there is no solution found
for the remaining refugees, more and more will surely mount boats and
risk their lives!

Posted in General | Leave a comment

Protest in front of Choucha Camp

Yesterday, a protest of refugees against the non-assistance of the responsibles (UNHCR, Tunisian government and EU) took place in front of the Choucha camp. It was the first time, that representatives of all communities/nationalities from the camp organized themselves and were present. From now on there are more discussion circles planned to fight together for a solution of the difficulties.

The demands of the refugees are:

* to be accorded asylum protection
* to be granted International protection in a safe third country (a country with effective system of protection)
* a general resettlement for everyone in CHOUCHA CAMP.

We are demanding the UNHCR, as well as the European Union and the media, to take these demands serious, to help immediately and not to forget the people living in Choucha!

Choucha Demonstration (2)

Posted in General | Leave a comment

Closing all the Services in the Camp

The Demonstrators of the sit-in outside the UNHCR offices in Tunis had a meeting with UNHCR on Friday evening. UNHCR said they would not necessarily cut the water at the camp in order to close it. They also agreed that no force would be used to shut the camp. However they will not give refugees any assistance. There is no resettlement on offer. The UNHCR agreed to talk to the demonstrators from now on rather than ignoring them as they have been up until now.

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!


Among the hundreds of refugees and asylum seekers, that are remaining in the Camp, there are also 34 unaccompanied minors in the camp. 15 of them remain without any solution, while all of them don’t have any legal status and could even be deported.

Posted in General | Leave a comment

Press Release in Germany

Today, 28th of June, Members of different networks working on migration politics have published a press release about the closure of the Choucha Camp. Although it is only in german, we want to publish it here. Feel free to distribute it!

Pressemitteilung vom 28.6.2013

Zurückgelassen in der Wüste: Bevorstehende Schließung des Flüchtlingslagers Choucha in Tunesien

In drei Tagen, am 01.07.2013, soll das Flüchtlingslager Choucha im Süden Tunesiens geschlossen werden. Anerkannte Flüchtlinge sowie abgelehnte Asylsuchende bleiben ohne Versorgung ihrer Grundbedürfnisse zurück. Europa verweigert weitere Aufnahmen.

Das Flüchtlingslager Choucha liegt an der tunesisch-libyschen Grenze in der Wüste. Es wurde im Februar 2011 vom UNHCR (Flüchtlingskommissariat der Vereinten Nationen) errichtet für Menschen, die als ArbeitsmigrantInnen oder Transitflüchtlinge in Libyen gelebt hatten und seit Beginn des NATO-Kriegs vor den Bomben und vor Massakern vor allem an Schwarzen über die tunesische Grenze flohen. Während ein Großteil der über 20.000 Geflüchteten entweder mehr oder weniger freiwillig in ihre Herkunftsländer zurückgekehrt ist und ein kleiner Teil durch so genanntes Resettlement in Drittstaaten umgesiedelt wurde, werden nun etwa 500 Personen zurückgelassen. Die abgelehnten Asylsuchenden werden jeglicher Zukunftsperspektive beraubt und finden sich in Tunesien in der Illegalität wieder. Anerkannte Flüchtlinge, die aus verschiedenen Gründen nicht zum Resettlementprogramm zugelassen wurden, sollen in Tunesien lokal integriert werden. Jedoch bietet Tunesien weder eine ausgearbeitete Asylgesetzgebung, die den Flüchtlingen einen Aufenthaltsstatus und damit den Schutz ihrer Rechte zusichern würde, noch ist die Gesellschaft schwarzen Menschen gegenüber offen. Die Flüchtlinge berichten von unzähligen rassistischen Anfeindungen und Übergriffen. Ihre Lebensrealität in tunesischen Städten wäre von Isolation, Ausgrenzung und einem rechtlichen unsicheren Status geprägt. Außerdem ist die politische Lage in Tunesien seit der Revolution sehr instabil und die Arbeitslosigkeit immens.

Aus Protest gegen die Illegalisierung beziehungsweise Isolierung in der tunesischen Gesellschaft haben die Flüchtlinge entschieden im Camp zu bleiben. Unklar ist, wie UNHCR, das tunesische Militär, dem das Gelände gehört, und die lokale Bevölkerung reagieren werden. Internationale Aufmerksamkeit ist aus diesem Grund dringend erforderlich, um etwaige Ausschreitungen und Anfeindungen gegen die Flüchtlinge, wie sie bereits in den letzten Jahren auftraten, anprangern und dokumentieren zu können. Zudem ist davon auszugehen, dass sich Flüchtlinge dafür entscheiden werden, nach Libyen zurück zu gehen, um von dort die lebensgefährliche Überquerung des Mittelmeers zu wagen.

Bereits seit Wochen wurde die Wasserversorgung im Wüstencamp reduziert. Gestern wurde damit begonnen, alle Toiletten abzureißen. Abgelehnten Flüchtlingen wird seit über einem halben Jahr der Zugang zu Lebensmitteln und medizinischer Versorgung verwehrt. Seit dem 25.06. ist zudem bekannt, dass der UNHCR keinem der Flüchtlinge, die im Camp bleiben, weitere finanzielle Unterstützung zukommen lassen wird. “Wir Flüchtlinge sollen so ausgehungert und dazu gezwungen werden, die lokale Integration anzunehmen”, so Emad M. aus dem Sudan. Mit Protesten und Aktionen im Camp sowie in Tunis, unter anderem während des dort stattfindenden Weltsozialforums im März 2013 und einem anschließenden Hungerstreik vor dem Büro des UNHCR, haben die Flüchtlinge für ihre Forderung nach Aufnahme in einem Land, in dem ihre Rechte garantiert sind, demonstriert – bisher trotz internationaler Unterstützung vergeblich.

Das Vorgehen des UNHCR und der Regierungen der EU-Länder gegenüber den Geflüchteten im Lager Choucha ist skandalös. “Statt Flüchtlingsschutz zuverlässig zu praktizieren, werden ganze Gruppen von Flüchtlingen in
die Illegalität oder zur Weiterflucht gezwungen”, so Conni Gunßer vom Flüchtlingsrat Hamburg. “Die EU lagert mit Unterstützung des UNHCR den Flüchtlingsschutz in Länder an den Rändern Europas aus, hindert durch ihre Grenzschutzagentur Frontex und Abkommen mit Drittstaaten Flüchtlinge am Zugang nach Europa und verwehrt den wenigen hier Angekommenen grundlegende Rechte.”

In Anbetracht der Verantwortung, die die NATO-Staaten gegenüber den Flüchtlingen des Libyenkrieges tragen, ist es dringend notwendig, dass weitere Resettlementplätze für die verbleibenden Flüchtlinge im Lager Choucha bereitgestellt, die Menschen hier aufgenommen werden und Rechte bekommen – so wie es im September 2012 in Deutschland endlich mit 201 anerkannten Flüchtlingen aus Choucha geschah. Die abgelehnten Asylsuchenden fordern weiterhin eine Wiederaufnahme ihrer zum Teil sehr mangelhaft durchgeführten Verfahren und ihre Anerkennung und Aufnahme als Kriegsflüchtlinge.

Wir, Mitglieder verschiedener migrationspolitischer Netzwerke wie Afrique-Europe-Interact, Welcome to Europe und borderline europe sowie von Flüchtlingsräten, lokalen antirassistischen Gruppen und der Forschungsgesellschaft Flucht und Migration (FFM), haben die Geflüchteten im Lager Choucha kennengelernt, unterstützen ihre Forderungen und appellieren an die europäische Öffentlichkeit, sich für die Aufnahme dieser Flüchtlinge einzusetzen. Die Medien rufen wir auf, die Vorgänge nach der angekündigten Schließung des Lagers kritisch zu beobachten und darüber zu berichten.

Kontaktadresse: choucha(a)riseup.net
Telefon: 0173-4108642

Nähere Informationen, Fotos und Videos auf:

http://chouchaprotest.noblogs.org/ und http://afrique-europe-interact.net

Aktuelle Fotos vom Abriss der Toiletten:

Posted in General | Leave a comment

Dismantling of the Camp

destruction toilets 2706

The UNHCR started to break down all the camp’s toilets in order to force the refugees to leave the camp and go into Tunisian cities.

Posted in General | Leave a comment

Depriving refugees from monthly payments

Yesterday the UNHCR made the announcement that from now on only those refugees that accept the local integration will receive monthly payments from the UNHCR. The refugees, that are refusing the integration programme and are until now remaining in the Choucha Camp – which is the majority of the refugees-, will remain without the means to satisfy their basic needs such as food. This represents a serious risk to up to 300 persons. It is unclear how the situation will develope in the next days, because the Camp is supposed to close the 30th of June. Reports and Articles about the situation are urgently needed!

Posted in General | Leave a comment