The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) expressed their appreciation for the efforts made by the Tunisian and Libyan Red Crescents in providing humanitarian assistance to hundreds of immigrants stranded in the border areas between the two countries.
The two organizations expressed in a joint statement deep concern about the safety and conditions of hundreds of immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers in Tunisia, who are still stuck in dire conditions after being deported to remote and isolated areas near the country's borders with Libya and Algeria, while others were pushed across the border to Libya or Algeria.
They said that many of those immigrants moved out of Sfax following the recent unrest in the city, while others were relocated from various urban centers across Tunisia.
The statement spoke of the presence of women - including pregnant ones - and children among those stranded in the desert, facing extreme temperatures without shelter, food or water, and indicated the urgent need to provide necessary and life-saving humanitarian assistance until humanitarian solutions are found.
The joint statement expressed regret over reports of loss of life among the immigrants, stressing that "under these circumstances, importance must be given to saving lives and the stranded immigrants must be moved to a safe place."
The statement urged all concerned countries to fulfill their international legal obligations toward immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers, noting that UNHCR and IOM stand ready to support the authorities in order to find solutions to the current situation in a humane and principled manner that respects the rights of all, as well as to prepare a sustainable approach for immigration and asylum management.
The Tunisian authorities deported hundreds of African to the border with Libya, as the Libyan Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah reiterated that Libya would not be a country of resettlement for immigrants, stressing the need to unite national efforts toward all the details related to the immigration file, and to unite efforts with Tunisia to return immigrants to their countries.