Two weeks into Tunisia's "state of exception" President Kais Saied has yet to appoint a new Prime Minister and lay out a clear roadmap for the country’s future. Many who could help shape that future will however not wait. They continue to leave.
“I don’t just help them, I go with them. If there’s room, I’ll hop on with them. Do you want to jump with us?” Bilal Weld Hasna. Kelibia resident told our journalist in Tunis.
Bilal was born and raised in Tunisia’s coast… from where he attempted the dangerous crossing of the Mediterranean Sea - more than once.
“I went 12 times. I’ve been Immigrating since 2012, 2011. Last time I crossed was in 2017. Sometimes I went 2, 3 times per year.“
He says people continue to look for ways out because of the lack of opportunity in Tunisia, but believes President Kais Saied’s power grab will not trigger a mass exodus - on the contrary
“That’s not true, it’s the exact opposite. People are happy and are thinking less about immigrating illegally. Well done Kais Saied. I swear, it’s not a coup. He should have done this a long time ago to help the people, otherwise everyone will immigrate. If he hadn’t done that, the country would have been on fire and everyone would have left, men, women, children, and elderly.”
Tunisian authorities have an interesting explanation for the departures.
President Kais Saied recently claimed youths are being paid to leave the country illegally - saying the goal is to damage Tunisia from within and hurt its ties with the EU.
A 19-year-old illegal migrant who wants to remain anonymous has a different version.
“There’s no future here in Tunisia”. His plan is to cross to Italy - and then travel to Switzerland where he hopes to become a football player.
He will try and do that by sneaking into one of the trucks or containers being shipped out of the port here.
“Isn’t it dangerous.? we ask. "No A number of guys from my neighborhood went this way - I am not too worried about the risk.”
The young man is not afraid though there is huge risk. In fact the risk of death
Mehdi Nefzi a Tunis resident lost a 20 year-old neighbor who sneaked into a refrigerated container. His frozen body was found when the ship docked in Italy
“They think in Europe life is beautiful. It’s paradise.” he warns.
For him, there is no try for such a deadly fate. He knows the risk and says he is not going anywhere.
"I have a job, a girlfriend, a family to look after" Medhi stressed.
He has one hope though. That of a new Tunisia. One that will one day offer all Tunisians better chances
"So that people here feel like they can stay".