World Bank halts future Tunisia engagement after president's anti-migrant remarks

© Hassene Dridi, AP

The World Bank is pausing talks over its future engagement with Tunisia following anti-immigrant comments made by the country's president, Kais Saied, according to an internal message to staff seen by AFP.

In the message, the bank's outgoing President David Malpass said Saied's tirade had triggered "racially motivated harassment and even violence," and that the institution had postponed a planned meeting with Tunisia until further notice.

"Given the situation, management has decided to pause the Country Partnership Framework and withdraw it from Board review," said Malpass in the note to staff.

AFP understands that ongoing projects will continue and funded projects remain financed.

Hundreds of migrants have flown home from Tunisia, fearful of a wave of violence since the president's remarks.

Last month, Saied ordered officials to take "urgent measures" to tackle irregular migration, claiming without evidence that "a criminal plot" was underway to change Tunisia's demographic makeup.

He claimed that migrants were behind most crime in the North African country, fueling a spate of sackings, evictions and attacks.

'Completely unacceptable'

"Public commentary that stokes discrimination, aggression, and racist violence is completely unacceptable," said Malpass in the note to World Bank staff.

Malpass said that the bank's work in Tunisia is aimed at helping all people, whether they are citizens or immigrants.


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