Kiara Gezels

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Position Paper Committee: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Country: Tunisia University: Maastricht University Delegate Name: Kiara Gezels Topic A: Regulation on treatment of refugees attempting to cross borders

The first traces of the breakout of the Arab Spring can be found by a Tunisian street trader Mohammed Bouazizi who put himself on fire on the 17th of December 2010 as a form of protest against the regime. It provoked a flow of uprisings throughout the Middle-Eastern and North-African world. When the president Ben Ali fled our country subsequently due to a revolution, more than 25,500 Tunisians took to the sea in the hope of a better life in Europe. Besides, the outbreak of the civil war in Libya in 2011 provoked an outflow of almost one million people into Tunisia. We responded by opening our borders for all nationalities, which resulted in many sub-Saharan migrants entering Tunisia, apart from the Libyan refugees. Emergency measures were taken by Tunisian authorities, including the opening of the Choucha refugee camp in February 2011—which received up to 18,000 people a day at the peak of the crisis. Our humanitarian organizations also mobilized their resources to support incoming migrants. However, the absorption capacity of Tunisia is limited by high levels of unemployment and poverty. As foreign minister Mongi Hamd once stated: “Our country's economic situation is precarious, and we cannot cope with hundreds of thousands of refugees." Therefore, we...