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Africa

2011-06-03

AFRICA/TUNISIA-"The Eritreans welcomed in Chouca are tired of waiting, " says the Archbishop of Tunis to Fides

Tunis (Agenzia Fides) - "The refugees welcomed in the reception camp of Chouca are starting to get tired of the long wait to get refugee status and therefore able to leave this precarious situation, " says His Exc Mgr. Maroun Elias Lahham, Archbishop of Tunis. In the camp of Chouca, about 25 km from the town of Ras Ajdir, Tunisia, near the border with Libya, there have been clashes between the Eritrean refugees and those of Sudanese origin, who fled Libya as a result of known war events. As a consequence the local people attacked the camp after a protest organized by some refugees (see Fides 26/5/2011).
'The Tunisian police repatriated the Sudanese who, moreover, were not entitled to request the status of political refugee - says Mgr.Laham -. There are only those who have this right, most of them Eritreans. But things are dragging on to get permission from the Italian authorities. These people are tired of waiting: they cannot return to Eritrea, they know that they are entitled to refugee status but have been living in refugee camps for months. The Tunisian people are beginning to get exhausted by this situation because providing food and drink to thousands of people for months is a bit hard, bearing in mind that we are coming out from a real 'tsunami 'policy. The Catholic Church is present in the camp. In particular Fr. Sandro de Pretis has been of enormous help thanks to the fact that he knows the Eritrean language because he has worked in Eritrea, and is in constant contact with me, "concludes Mgr. Maroun Lahham. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 06/03/2011)

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