Reacting at the border. In light of the condition of migrants in Libya (economic projects)

The projects outlined below make up the first steps of a broader engagement. Our goal for the moment is to launch some economic activities in the town of Zarzis that will provide work and training for some migrants fleeing Libya and for some unemployed youth in Zarzis.

In the border zone between Tunisia and Libya, a crucial node of the European Union’s politics of externalisation and militarisation of the border, carrying with it it’s toll of death and unliveable conditions, we are trying to open up a space of political action from below. These attempts entail new practices of existence that are also related to the economy and that might provide an alternative to neoliberal exploitation logics and to the welcoming-imprisonment nexus of EU migration management. Our actions are particularly focused in the town of Zarzis, in the Governorate of Medenine, a coastal town near the Libyan border where people fleeing Libya are gathering, where young Tunisians are seeking to leave for Europe, and where fishermen and locals find themselves rescuing people at sea.

Who we are

The EuropeZarzisAfrique group was formed in Zarzis while discussing how to find alternative political actions from below which could address the monstrous conditions migrants are facing in Libya. The group is made up of inhabitants of Zarzis and of various Italian and European cities who are in contact with sub-Saharan migrants who escaped Libya and are now present in the Governorate of Medenine and in Zarzis. Starting from the impulse of this informal group, and with an aim to actualise some concrete and immediate actions for those who escaped Libya and are already present in Zarzis, we created the Association ZEA in Tunisia and the ZEA Committee in Italy.

Our actions

These projects are the first step of a larger journey. Our goal during this first phase is to launch three economic projects in the town of Zarzis that will provide work and training for some migrants fleeing Libya and for some unemployed Tunisian youth. This for us is an attempt to generate a space of existence, imagination and community that is autonomous and that provides an alternative to the logics of death of European Union migration politics.

This is why we are launching a crowdfunding campaign that we invite you to participate in.

Any amount of donation, small or big, will help in the actualisation of these projects!

Informal group EuropeZarzisAfrique, Association ZEA Tunisia, Committee ZEA Italy.

Bank details for donations:

Banca Etica ZEA Zarzis Europe Afrique

IBAN: IT12V0501801600000016834855


Reference: Zarzis

Project 1: “Plastic Collection”

Every year in Tunisia a billion plastic bags are used, and 10 000 tons of waste is produced, causing enormous environmental damage. We propose to put together a group to carry out plastic collection, and especially of plastic bags that cover the fields and beaches of Zarzis, inorder to sell it to the recycling market in Tunisia. Once this project is launched, we estimate that the selling of gathered plastic will generate revenue for five people. This crowdfunding will help buy the vehicle needed to carry out this work and the working tools necessary to safeguard the health of workers. We foresee that this project will take three months to become self-sufficient.

Project 2: “Pottery workshop”

Tunisian ceramics and pottery are to this day of particular historical, artistic and aestheticinterest, as they blend tradition, skills and innovation. The idea behind this project is toinvolve some migrant women and Tunisian women in a safe and welcoming training periodlasting a couple of months to allow them to familiarise themselves with working with a gasoven that they will themselves build. They will then together come up with their own designof everyday objects which will blend motifs from different traditions. Two members of ourgroup – Farouk Ben Lhiba and Monica Scafati – have been working in different fields relatedto pottery making, design and decoration in Italy and Tunisia for a long time, and will offertheir expertise to develop this project. When the training will come to an end we hope theobjects will start being sold in fair trade and NGO related European markets.

Project 3: “Crab fishing”

The Central Mediterranean has in recent years seen a rise in blue crab populations. AlongTunisian coasts a strong presence of these crabs has led to a change in local ecosystems, sincethis crab species is not native to these coasts, which might lead to increased disruptions inlocal sea life cycles. These crabs are nevertheless fished and sold on the international market,and have recently become a source of revenue for Tunisian fisheries. This is an easy projectto launch and it will be immediately viable, which is why we felt it would be a good projectto start with during this initial phase. We estimate that the project will provide a salary for sixpeople who will be involved in fishing the crabs. We need to collect money in order to buytwo small fishing boats and the working material necessary for fishing. We hope that after amonth the project will become economically independent.

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