North Africa Theater

Abraham Accords' betrayal of Sahrawi consolidated

Israel announced July 17 that it has formally recognized Moroccan sovereignty over the disputed territory of Western Sahara. The US in 2021 became the first nation to recognize Morocco's claim to the territory—an open quid pro quo for Moroccan recognition of Israel as a part of the so-called Abraham Accords. Israeli recognition of Morocco's claim was promised at that time. However, much of the territory is controlled by the Polisario Front, independence movement of the Sahrawi Arab people. Some 45 countries around the world recognize Polisario's declared Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR); the US and Israel are alone in recognizing Rabat's rule over the territory.

Tunisia: mass expulsion of Black African migrants

Hundreds of Black African migrants were rounded up from the Tunisian port city of Sfax, expelled across the country's border with Libya and left stranded in the desert last week, sparking street protests by the large community of migrants waiting in the city. According to reports, some managed to escape back to the Tunisian side after being confronted by Libyan militiamen, but the fate of all those expelled has still not been accounted for. The expulsions came after mobs attacked Black Africans in Sfax following the funeral of a Tunisian man who was stabbed to death in an altercation with migrants. Tensions have been rising for months in Tunisia, which has seen a sharp increase in people attempting to cross the Mediterranean from its shores this year. (TNH, AfricaNews, Jurist)

Drones deployed in Libya migrant crackdown

Libyan politicians have wrapped up nearly three weeks of talks in Morocco meant to set a framework for the country's long-delayed elections. Back at home, the country's rival sides were cracking down hard on migrants and refugees. The Tripoli-based Government of National Unity has been using armed drones to target what it says are migrant traffickers bringing people in from Tunisia. In eastern Libya, authorities have reportedly rounded up between 4,000 and 6,000 Egyptian migrants, deporting some to Egypt and holding others in a customs hangar near the border. Some suspect that this has been driven by domestic and international political calculations by Gen. Khalifa Haftar, leader of the Libyan National Army that controls much of eastern Libya.

Libya: 'crimes against humanity' —and European complicity

The UN Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya released a report March 27 finding grounds to believe Libyan authorities and armed groups have been responsible for "a wide array" of war crimes and crimes against humanity in recent years. The report further charged that European Union states have been complicit in crimes against humanity by Libyan forces targeting migrants trying to reach Europe. Legally barred from deporting migrants to Libya, EU governments instead give funding and technical aid to the Libyan Coast Guard, which has been accused of widespread "arbitrary detention, murder, torture, rape, enslavement and enforced disappearance" against migrants since 2016. (UN News, TNH)

Tunisia: protest xenophobic attacks on Black Africans

Amnesty International on March 10 called on Tunisia to put an immediate end to racist and xenophobic attacks targeting Black African migrants. The violence began in early February and was exacerbated by a racially-charged speech by President Kais Saied at a National Security Council meeting on Feb. 21. President Saied said that "hordes of irregular migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa" had come to Tunisia, "with all the violence, crime, and unacceptable practices that entails." He said this was an "unnatural" situation and part of a criminal plan designed to "change the demographic make-up" and turn Tunisia into "just another African country that doesn't belong to the Arab and Islamic nations any more."

Algeria: mass death sentence targets Kabylia activists

Amnesty International on Jan. 9 condemned the death sentences of 54 individuals linked by Algerian prosecutors to the lynching of activist Djamel Ben Ismail amid wildfires in the Kabylie region in August 2021. Amnesty alleged that numerous fair trial violations occurred during the mass proceedings in November 2022. Amnesty also raised alarm about claims of torture, and prosecution of individuals due to their political affiliations.

Libya: 'rampant crimes' by Hafar-aligned militia

Amnesty International on Dec. 19 accused armed group Tariq Ben Zeyad (TBZ) of committing "rampant" war crimes and human rights abuses to enforce the rule of the so-called Libyan Arab Armed Forces (LAAF) and its leader Khalifa Haftar. The report details incidences of forced disappearances, unlawful killings, torture, and mistreatment of detained migrants and refugees. The LAAF, previously known as the Libyan National Army, controls the eastern portion of Libya and several cities, including Benghazi, Derna, Sirte, Tobruk, and areas outside Tripoli. The TBZ is headed by Haftar's son Saddam, and Amnesty states that it exists primarily to enforce his rule through a campaign of terror. (Amnesty International, Jurist)

Mass grave unearthed in Libya

Authorities in Libya announced Oct. 2 that they had discovered a mass grave containing 42 bodies in Sirte, a city that was once the so-called Islamic State's capital in the country. Libya's Missing Persons Authority said the bodies were found in a school, and samples were taken at a local hospital so that the victims could be identified.

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