On 14 January 2011, following protests over high unemployment, corruption and widespread poverty, President Ben Ali dismissed the government and fled the country. Since then and by late January 2011 a "national unity government" was formed. In late October 2011, elections for a Constituent Assembly were held. The Constituent Assembly has so far appointed a new interim government.
Migration is considered as one of the high topics in the newly appointed government and fits in the national priorities. A new migration department has been created in the Tunisian ministry of social affairs through the creation of a Secretary of State position in charge of Immigration and Tunisians Abroad. This department (State Secretariat) aims at gradually bringing under its supervision all of the units from other Ministries (Interior, Employment, Justice, Foreign Affairs, etc.) that have so far worked on migration issues.
More than a year after the events of January 14, 2011, the socioeconomic situation of Tunisia remains fragile and the country is facing important challenges. A permanent source of tension is the gap between strong migration pressure and limited legal migration channels. Tunisia has also rapidly become an immigration and transit country, with migrants coming mainly from the Maghreb and from Sub-Saharan Africa whose aim is to reach Europe through irregular migration from the Tunisian coasts. More than 25,500 Tunisians took to the sea in the aftermath of the fall of the Ben Ali regime with the hope of finding work or joining their families or friends in Europe. In this context, IOM carried out an awareness raising campaign using social theatre in partnership with the Tunisian Ministries of Social Affairs and of the Interior targeting unemployed young people in vulnerable areas to inform and discuss the possible risks and hazards related to irregular migration. The Italian-funded campaign has enlisted the support of Tunisian playwright and comedian Raouf Ben Yaghlane who has written a hard-hitting play based on the testimonies of young Tunisians living as irregular migrants in Italy. IOM also coordinated with Tunisian NGOs a media outreach campaign to highlight the risks of irregular migration with funding from the European Commission-United Nations Joint Migration and Development Initiative (JMDI).
Furthermore, Tunisia has experienced an upsurge in immigration since the Libyan crisis started in early 2011, after which nearly 350,000 fled Libya via the Tunisian border in the course of a few months (including 97,000 Tunisian returnees). As of 31 January 2012, the vast majority of these third country nationals have either returned to their country of origin or been resettled in third countries as refugees. IOM has played an active role in the management of these extraordinary inflows of migrants at the borders, carrying out a number of activities in strict coordination with the Tunisian authorities, UN High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) and other UN agencies.
Considering unemployment, and despite pro-active employment policies developed by the Tunisian authorities, the unemployment rate has increased considerably (from 14.2 per cent in 2008 to 18.3 per cent in 2011). Unemployment particularly affects young people, including a growing percentage of university graduates, whose number has skyrocketed in the last two decades. Disparities at a regional level between inner and coastal areas in terms of growth and work opportunities, as well as consequent internal migration flows, also contribute to the increase of social tensions among the young population.
IOM Tunisia stands ready to support and provide its technical expertise to the Tunisian authorities and strives to enhance institutional capacities for effective migration management through capacity-building, migration and development activities, prevention of irregular migration and labour migration schemes. At the same time, IOM is developing new activities in border management, counter trafficking, community stabilization, labour migration and mainstreaming migration. IOM works with a wide range of partners which include, besides governmental agencies, the UN country team, NGOs, civil society and the academia.
- IOM assists refugees resettling to Belgium, Ireland, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Denmark, Spain, Canada, Australia and the United States. IOM Tunisia has assisted the movement of some 861 refugees from Tunisia since the beginning of the crisis to 14 resettlement countries. IOM's role includes coordination, health assessment, treatment, providing ground transportation and air transportation to the refugees’ final destination, airport assistance at the ports of departure, transit and arrival.
- IOM assists third country nationals to return to their countries of origin. IOM Tunisia has assisted in the return of over 115,000 third country nationals (TCNs), many of whom are from Sub-Saharan African nations as well as South Asia, who have fled the violence in Libya.
- Best Practices on Collecting and Sharing Labour Migration Data for the Improvement of the Labour Market Information Systems
- Engaging the Tunisian Youth to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals (Youth, Employment and Migration)
- Migration of Tunisians to Libya: Dynamics, Challenges and Perspectives
- International Mobility Programme
- Government of Switzerland
- Government of Belgium
- Government of Italy
- Government of Poland
- Government of Germany
- Office To Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, US Department of State (J/TIP)
- Family Tracing for Unaccompanied Minors in Italy
- Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration
- Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration of Unaccompanied Minors
- Joint Migration and Development Initiative (JMDI, UN/EU Migration and Development): North Africa Regional Conference
- Joint Migration and Development Initiative (JMDI, UN/EU Migration and Development): Tunisia’s Small-scale Actors' Projects Selected within the 2009 Call for Proposals
- Stabilizing At-risk Communities and Enhancing Migration Management to Support Transitions in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya
Main text: February 2012
Facts and figures: February 2016