UNHCR calls for calm following incident at a refugee shelter in Tunisia

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, urges for calm following an incident that took place yesterday, Thursday 20 June, at the Ibn Khaldun refugee shelter in Medenine, Tunisia.

According to the information we have been able to collect so far, a group of refugees and asylum-seekers launched a demonstration from inside the shelter yesterday morning calling for them to be resettled to Europe. In the events that unfolded, we understand that some of those involved became agitated and threatening. The police intervened and some 20 demonstrators were arrested. 10 have since been released.

We have approached the Tunisian authorities to find out more information, and are providing legal counsel to the refugees who remain under arrest.

UNHCR deplores the incident and urges for a peaceful resolution to the situation. While we understand the asylum-seekers’ frustrations and desire for resettlement to a third country, we urge them to raise their concerns through the proper channels and to adhere to the requirements of the law. We will continue to follow these events closely and remain committed to continuing our dialogue with the refugees.

Resettlement, which is the solution favoured by many refugees, remains severely limited. Last year, just 4.7 per cent of refugees identified as in need were resettled. UNHCR is currently working with States and partners, to develop a three-year strategy on Resettlement and Complementary Pathways to help increase the pool of resettlement places and encourage more countries to participate in global resettlement efforts.