The protection of sub-Saharan migrants in Tunisia: community responses and institutional questioning

by Adnen El Ghali

10 May 2022
Journal of the British Academy
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Number of pages
20 (pp.145-165)

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Abstract: This article explores the kind of violence endured by migrants in Tunisia, the kinds of formal protective mechanisms exist and the ways migrants themselves attempt to remain safe. The article reveals significant gaps in the formal protective frameworks and their implementation. Migrants are trapped in a state of precariousness and vulnerability that exposes them to violence. Such violence comprises ordinary everyday forms of violence as well as state violence and neglect, often the result of the EU’s externalisation of border management to Tunisia. Consequently, migrants are caught in a protective limbo with few rights and opportunities and must compete with the Tunisian population, which is also becoming increasingly precarious. To address this lack of protection, migrants have developed protective skills and resorted to a set of communal protective responses and strategies that comprise national, religious, territorial and virtual communities of protection. Though effective, these forms of protection entail the risk of increased and potentially dangerous visibility leading to what we have called the invisibility paradox and generating the migrant stigma.

Keywords: Migration, protection skills, community responses, migrant stigma, invisibility paradox.

Article posted to Journal of the British Academy, volume 10, supplementary issue 3 (Human Rights Protection and Torture).

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