More than 45 per cent of young Tunisians want to migrate illegally to Europe according to a new study, and an estimated 35,000 have already done so in the last few years.
Despite the study finding that 75 per cent of young Tunisians are aware of the problems faced by illegal immigrants in Europe, it revealed that 45.2 per cent between the ages of 18 and 34 want to make the journey. Forty-one per cent of respondents said they are aware of Tunisia’s laws on the topic of illegal migration, in particular that emigrating illegally is a criminal act.
While 57 per cent of youths in Tunisia call for illegal migration to be decriminalised, arguing that moving to Europe is the only way to improve their living conditions, 42 per cent back the law as an effective tool to prevent people drowning in the Mediterranean in transit.
The survey, carried out by the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights (FTDES), was conducted with a sample of 1,168 young Tunisians, 53 per cent of whom were men and 47 per cent of whom were women.
Presenting the study’s findings, FTDES president Abderrahmane Hédhili said 30,000 Tunisians have illegally migrated to Europe since the Tunisian revolution, which ended in 2011.
He added that most of those who have migrated illegally are young students from “marginalised neighbourhoods”, and “victims of economic and social exclusion”. Around 1,000 Tunisians have died while making the journey, Hédhili also pointed out.
According to the study, which was carried out in association with the Rosa Luxembourg Foundation, the reasons young people have for seriously thinking about moving to Europe include the terror threat in Tunisia and poor living conditions.
About 82 per cent of respondents said they would self-finance the cost of paying traffickers to smuggle them to Europe while 44 per cent said they would rely on their parents to foot the bill.
Of the Tunisians surveyed, 24 per cent said they know smugglers in their neighbourhoods and 15 per cent said they have already been in contact with traffickers.
On Monday the 19th of December, Anis Amri, an illegal migrant from Tunisia ploughed a truck into crowds of people at a Christmas market, killing 12 people and injuring over 50. And in July, Tunisian Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel mowed down 86 people who were celebrating Bastille Day, in the southern French city of Nice.