Report from the Refugee-Camp Choucha at the Tunisian-Libyan border

Thousands of sub-Saharan refugees and migrants trapped in Choucha camp near Libyan border — many flee back to Libya

Choucha is one of four camps situated at the open Tunisian-Libyan border between Ben Guardane und Ras Jdir. It was set up by UNHCR, the Red Cross and Red Crescent on 24/02/11 shortly after the fighting in Libya had started when mainly Egyptians and Bangladeshis arrived. Here, in a desert-like area, between 4,000 and 5,000 sub-Saharan, East African and other refugees from 30 countries have to live in tents at the moment if they want to apply for protection with UNHCR. According to UNHCR, about 3,800 of the inhabitants of the tent city are registered as refugees or asylum seekers, and a majority of them have already been living there for between two and four months. No end to the emergency accommodation in sandy tents, with completely improvised infrastructure and bad water quality, is in sight for the refugees.
In the night of 21/05, people at Choucha camp were again faced with an alarming worsening of the situation when a fire broke out in the tent city. 21 tents were burnt and four people died, including a baby. In connection with the panic the fire caused, internal conflicts along the lines of origin and religion have now broken out. Furthermore, this incident reinforced the feelings of insecurity and hopelessness at the camp and as well the decision of many refugees, rather to make the dangerous journey to Libya again, and also their willingness to protest.
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