Hundreds in limbo at camp on the Tunisian-Libyan border

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IRIN) – Two years after fleeing the civil war in Libya, hundreds of sub-Saharan African and Arab refugees, most of them ex-migrant workers in Libya, are still holed up in a camp on the Tunisian side of the border.

Choucha camp, 5km inside Tunisia, is run by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and at one time had nearly 20,000 residents, around half of them were Bangladeshis who had been working in Libya when the war started and fled to Tunisia on the way home.

Several thousand residents though were from East Africa, and had no wish to return home. In 2011 and 2012 UNHCR processed 3,543 asylum claims in Choucha; of these, 3,009 persons were recognized as refugees.

The camp now has 1,357 residents (1,145 refugees and asylum seekers, plus 212 classed as migrants after their asylum applications were rejected) from 13 different countries – mainly Somalia, Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Chad – and is set to close in June.

Some 890 camp refugees have already been accepted for resettlement by 14 countries (USA and Norway are the leading hosts) as part of a Global Resettlement Solidarity Initiative launched in 2011 and are awaiting their departure date.

But around 400 refugees from the camp, a few of whom now live in nearby towns, have not yet been accepted by any country and are in limbo (in French).

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