Agence France-Presse (AFP) cited international humanitarian organizations as saying that at least 5,500 immigrants were expelled from Tunisia toward the border with Libya, and 3,000 others toward the border with Algeria since last June.

AFP added that more than 100 migrants died in the Libyan-Tunisian desert this summer, stressing that “mass expulsions to Libya and Algeria are continuing".

It indicated that among those displaced towards the border were a large number of those arrested by the Tunisian state as they attempted to leave for Europe. It also pointed out that most of the migrants who were intercepted were arrested on the eastern coast of Tunisia near Sfax, which is only about 130 kilometers from the Italian island of Lampedusa.

AFP explained that the pace of mass migration accelerated last February, after Tunisian President Kais Saied denounced the arrival of “lots of illegal immigrants” from sub-Saharan Africa, considering them part of a “criminal plan” aimed at “changing the demographic composition” of the country. 

AFP confirmed that the speech sparked a violent anti-immigrant campaign, which prompted many African countries, most notably Ivory Coast and Guinea, to return thousands of their citizens to their homeland, while many migrants tried to flee by boat, which led to a number of migrants drowning.