Tunisians stage anti-migrant protest

Hundreds of Tunisians marched through the streets of Jebeniana on May 18 to protest the presence of sub-Saharan migrants who have found themselves stranded as the country ramps up border patrol efforts.

Anti-migrant anger is mounting in impoverished towns like Jebeniana along the Tunisian coastline that have emerged as a launchpad for thousands of people hoping to reach Europe by boat.

Chanting slogans to oppose settling migrants in Tunisia, protesters demanded the government act to assist agricultural communities dealing with thousands of migrants living in tarpaulin encampments among their olive groves.

"You brought them here and it's your responsibility to send them back to their home countries," Moamen Salemi, a 63-year old retiree from nearby El Amra, said at the protest. "There is a shortage of food throughout the city of El Amra, including sugar, flour, bread and many other items."

A final stop for many who dream of a better life in Europe, Jebeniana and El Amra reflect the compounding problems facing Tunisia, a key transit point for migrants from Syria, Bangladesh and a variety of sub-Saharan African nations.

Law enforcement has expanded its presence in the two agricultural towns, where roughly 83,000 Tunisians live among a growing number of migrants from around the world.

Protesters say they have borne the cost of Tunisia's effort to prevent migrants from reaching the European Union less than a year after the country brokered an anti-migration pact with the 27-country bloc to better police its sea border and receive more than $1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) in aid.

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