The World Bank Group has suspended “until further notice” its partnership framework with Tunisia, following comments and attacks on sub-Saharan migrants in the country. The partnership framework is expected to serve as a basis for securing loans and financing totalling USD 520 million from the institution.
In a letter sent to its teams on Monday 6 March by the President of the World Bank, David Malpass, the institution considers that it is no longer able to continue its missions on the ground “given the situation”. Indeed, the letter follows “recent events in Tunisia that are of deep concern to the World Bank Group and its staff”. It is in fact the statements made by the Tunisian president on 21 February, which referred to “hordes of illegal migrants” whose arrival was part of a “criminal enterprise hatched at the dawn of this century to change the demographic composition of Tunisia”. These remarks provoked an outcry not only from Tunisian civil society but also from the international community and the African Union.
Thus, for the President of the WB “security and inclusion of migrants and minorities are part of the WB’s core values of inclusion, respect and anti-racism“. However, the institution says it is continuing “dialogue and contact with the Tunisian authorities”. However, it warns of a possible slowdown in its actions on the ground due to the implementation of security measures, especially for its staff from sub-Saharan Africa and their families.
The WB further reassured that while the measures taken by the Tunisian government “to protect and support migrants and refugees in this very difficult situation” are “in the right direction”, the World Bank assures that it will “carefully assess and monitor their impact”.
Tunisia is also indebted to 80% of its GDP due to the weight of its civil service (more than 650,000 employees), reports Africanews. The economic crisis has continued to worsen. Shortages of basic necessities have increased and inflation has exceeded 10%. Faced with this situation, the country, which is seeking to regain the confidence of its international donors, is negotiating aid from the IMF of nearly 2 billion dollars. It should be noted that on 8 February, the WB approved a $120 million loan to support access to finance for SMEs. And on 15 February, the government announced that the WB is considering a $400 million loan to finance reforms with a social dimension.