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Tunisian deportee begins hunger strike in Senegal

A Tunisian man imprisoned in France on terrorism charges and deported to Senegal has started a hunger strike in Dakar. Yassine Ferchichi began his strike following Senegal’s decision to cut humanitarian assistance that had been provided since his arrival. Ferchichi was not deported to his native Tunisia because French officials feared his rights would be violated there.

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Yassine Ferchichi’s decision to go on hunger strike came shortly after the Senegalese government announced they would stop providing him with humanitarian assistance.

After serving a jail term in France for terrorism-related activities, he was deported to Dakar in December last year.

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After his arrival, the Senegalese government provided Ferchichi with assistance like free housing, food and medical care, but it recently announced it was withdrawing this aid.

Amnesty International Senegal says it is ready to take up the case with government authorities. Seydi Gassama, head of Transparency International's country office in Dakar, has called on the Senegalese government to “keep their promise of welcoming Ferchichi in Senegal on humanitarian grounds”.

“This man is not a refugee”, he told RFI. “He was deported here by France - he didn’t come here voluntarily.”

Gassama said the Senegalese government had not given a reason for stopping the assistance.

“They accepted to welcome him here - maybe in exchange with promises from France - but they did accept to receive him.”

It was not the first time Senegal received foreign nationals deported from Europe who can’t return to their home countries, said Gassama. 

"The government seems to think it’s not good for the country to be some kind of rubbish dump for Western countries, and to receive anybody Europe doesn’t want.”

Ferchichi is reported to have said he will continue his hunger strike until the Senegalese government starts providing assistance again.

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