The World Bank (WB) suspends Tunisia following anti-migrant remarks

The World Bank (WB) will suspend “until further notice” its partnership framework with Tunisia, after the attacks targeting migrants in the country following a speech by the Tunisian president Kaïs Saïed at the end of February denouncing “hordes of illegal migrants”.

According to a letter sent to its teams by the president of the WB, David Malpass, which AFP was able to consult on Monday March 6, the institution was not able to continue its missions on the spot “given the situation” while “the security and inclusion of migrants and minorities are part of the central values ​​of inclusion, respect and anti-racism” of the WB.

The decision concerns the Country Partnership Framework (CPF), which serves as a basis for monitoring by the Board of Directors (CA) of the WB in order to assess and support the country in its aid programs. Concretely, the institution can no longer launch a new support program with the country as long as the Board has not met and it has decided to postpone this meeting on Tunisia “until further notice”, according to the letter. “Funded projects remain funded and ongoing projects remain ongoing,” said a source close to the WB.

However, the WB warns of a possible slowdown in its actions on site due to the implementation of security measures, in particular for its staff from sub-Saharan Africa and their families. “Tunisia has a long tradition of openness and tolerance which is encouraged by so many people in the country,” insisted David Malpass in his letter to WB employees. If the measures taken by the Tunisian government “to protect and support migrants and refugees in this very difficult situation” are “in the right direction”, the WB assures that it “will carefully assess and monitor their impact”.

Tunisian President Kaïs Saïed had estimated on February 21 in a speech that “urgent measures” were necessary “against the illegal immigration of nationals of sub-Saharan Africa”, speaking in particular of “hordes of illegal migrants” whose arrival was a matter of a “criminal enterprise hatched at the dawn of this century to change the demographic composition of Tunisia”. These comments were strongly criticized by NGOs and human rights activists. They have also sown a wind of panic among sub-Saharan migrants who have since reported an upsurge in attacks against them and have rushed by the dozens to their embassies to be repatriated.

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