Ivory Coast and Guinea to Repatriate Nationals from Tunisia

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The West African countries of Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire are repatriating hundreds of their nationals from Tunisia, officials said on Wednesday, after Tunisian President Kais Saied caused a storm by accusing migrants from sub-Saharan Africa of committing crimes.

“The most urgent thing is to save lives, to prevent injuries,” said Ivorian government spokesman Amadou Coulibaly on announcing the launch of repatriation efforts.

Coulibaly said Ivory Coast’s national airline, Air Cote d’Ivoire, has been tasked with helping to repatriate around 500 citizens.

The operation can be performed within the next 72 hours.

Tunisia

A Guinean Foreign Ministry official said the authorities had chartered a plane to take about 50 Guineans back to Tunisia who said they wanted to return home.

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This information was confirmed by a senior official at Conakry Airport.

The President’s Office earlier issued a statement saying that Foreign Minister Morissanda Kouyate was flying to Tunisia on a government plane to “provide urgent support to the Guineans”.

This is the first flight back from Guinea since Said ordered security forces to take “urgent action” against “hordes” of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa, accusing them without evidence of fueling a crime wave and conspiring to demographics change.

Many of the 21,000 migrants from sub-Saharan Africa in Tunisia – most of them illegal immigrants – lost their jobs and homes overnight.

Others were stopped by police and some reported physical assaults.

Dozens of migrants flocked to their embassies, particularly from Côte d’Ivoire and Mali, demanding to be returned home.

Several countries have announced return flights for repatriated volunteers.

A Côte d’Ivoire diplomat said there have been delays because migrants have to pay fines that normally exceed 1,000 euros ($1,070).

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