Families of jailed Tunisian opposition politicians have dismissed an aid package offered to Tunis by the European Union, warning the money would not help the north African country stop migrant departures.
Speaking at a press conference Monday with other children of jailed figures, Yusra Ghannouchi, the daughter of jailed opposition leader Rached Ghannouchi, said the deals the EU is making with the government of President Kais Saied would only serve to prop up his regime, which she accused of human rights violations.
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“Kais Saied has created these problems. It is the state of multiple crises and despair in Tunisia that is feeding migrations,” she said.
Saied shut down parliament, dismissed the government in July 2021 and moved to rule by decree, saying these changes were needed to save the country from corruption. Critics called his actions a coup.
In February 2023, the president accused some detained opposition politicians and critics of being responsible for price increases and food shortages, and of wanting to fuel a social crisis.
The EU this month offered Tunisia a 105 million euro ($114.5m) package to help it tackle a big rise in migrant departures, develop its battered economy and rescue state finances.
The departures soared after Saied announced a crackdown on sub-Saharan migrants in February, using language the African Union denounced as racialised.
In early June, EU ministers agreed on new terms that each country would be responsible for a set number of people but would not necessarily have to take them in.
Countries unwilling to receive irregular migrants and refugees would be able to help their hosting peers through equipment, personnel or cash – about 20,000 euros ($21,800) per person. Italy, Greece and Malta had initially issued demands for the mandatory relocation of migrants from front-line countries.
The reform also introduces a new expedited border procedure for those deemed unlikely to obtain asylum to prevent them from remaining inside the bloc for years.
The families of jailed opposition figures called the press conference in The Hague to also call on the International Criminal Court to look into alleged widespread human rights abuses in Tunisia, which is a member of the court.
Earlier this year, a crackdown by Tunisian judges detained more than 20 political, judicial, media and business figures with opposition ties. Many were jailed and accused of plotting against state security.