In Tunisia, UNHCR aims to support the establishment of a national asylum system, and to build national capacity for refugee protection.
UNHCR identifies, assists and protects refugees in a context marked by mixed migration movements. UNHCR also maintains preparedness efforts in view of a potential major influx.
Together with its partners, UNHCR identifies solutions to help refugees build a new life through socio-economic integration, resettlement and other alternative pathways.
In the absence of a formal national asylum system, UNHCR conducts registration of asylum seekers and refugee status determination in Tunisia, to ensure that persons of concern to UNHCR are identified and documented. This prevents arbitrary arrest, detention or refoulement. In 2017, UNHCR introduced biometric enrolment to improve quality of the data collected and prevent fraud.
The national asylum law has reached its final preparation stage and was shared with the Prime Minister’s Office in June 2016. UNHCR is advocating with the authorities to expedite the adoption process and have the law presented before Parliament.
UNHCR is training border officials to raise awareness on asylum and protection in a context of mixed migration. Tunisian border guards sometimes rescue boats in distress off the Tunisian coast, mostly departing from Libya. Groups of migrants and refugees crossing irregularly the border from Tunisia to Libya as well as from Libya to Tunisia are also regularly intercepted. UNHCR’s objective is to ensure that border management takes into consideration the protection needs of refugees and asylum-seekers.
▪ Refugees and asylum-seekers have access to local schools. To increase school attendance,
UNHCR and its partners provide cash grants to help parents purchase books and schools supplies. In some locations, catch-up classes and French language classes are also provided for.
▪ Similar to Tunisian nationals, refugees and asylum-seekers have access to basic public health facilities. UNHCR, through its partner TRC, reimburses medical expenses and medicines for basic primary health care, chronic diseases, and emergency medical interventions for vulnerable asylum seekers or refugees.
Community empowerment and Self-reliance
▪ With its partner ADRA, UNHCR is enhancing refugees’ self-reliance and livelihood opportunities, through tailored vocational training, income-generating projects and direct employment with private companies. Refugees having signed work contracts and received work permits from authorities are entitled to a temporary residency permit.
▪ UNHCR endeavours to achieve solutions for refugees and other alternative legal pathways, such as private sponsorship, family reunification and naturalization. Over 2017-2018, UNHCR supported the voluntary repatriation of five refugees, the resettlement of seven families (21 individuals) and the naturalization of seven refugees. In addition, five individuals left Tunisia under a private sponsorship scheme.
▪ Since 2014, upon the request of the Tunisian Government, and in close cooperation with the government, IOM and partners, UNHCR has been leading the coordination of the inter-agency preparedness efforts in case of a mass influx from Libya. In 2017, the revised and finalized plan was translated into Arabic and French and endorsed by the Tunisian authorities.