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  1. Rations begin as Tunisia battles drought

    BBC World Service

    Tunisia has introduced strict water rationing in the face of a prolonged drought that has severely depleted the country's main reservoirs.

    The use of potable water on agricultural land is banned until the end of September, a move which the farmers' union says will result in a disastrous harvest.

    Residents say that drinking water has been cut overnight in parts of the capital, Tunis, and in other cities in a bid to limit consumption.

    Water levels in Tunisia's main dam have fallen to just 16% of maximum capacity.

  2. Tunisia morgue overwhelmed by migrant bodies

    BBC Monitoring

    The world through its media

    A picture taken on October 13, 2020, shows a boat, which was carrying 29 people and sank off the Tunisian coast, being towed near the Tunisian coastal town of Amra.
    Image caption: There has been a spike in attempted sea crossings to Italy by undocumented migrants over the past weeks (file photo)

    A health official in the Tunisian province of Sfax has warned that the number of bodies of sub-Saharan migrants recovered from shipwrecks in recent days are more than the local medical system can handle.

    State news agency TAP cited the regional director of health, Hatem Cherif, as saying that the morgue of Habib Bourguiba University Hospital in the provincial capital had received 42 bodies of migrants - noting that the morgue could only handle 35 bodies.

    The bodies were pulled out of the sea after their boats sank in recent days off the province's coast.

    Last week, the morgue had received 70 bodies, Mr Cherif was quoted as saying, warning that with summer approaching, the pace of illegal migration attempts by sea would accelerate and the decomposition of bodies would be faster due to rising temperatures.

    The official appealed to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) to provide refrigerated containers and lorries to transport bodies to the hospital.

    TAP noted that more than 800 bodies of sub-Saharan Africans - who had died at sea - had been buried in local cemeteries in Sfax throughout 2022 and this year.

    The past few weeks have seen a spike in attempted sea crossings to Italy by undocumented migrants.

    On Sunday, domestic media reported the death of at least 29 migrants during attempted sea crossings from Sfax.

    The incidents came amid a campaign of arrests of sub-Saharan Africans living in the country and an anti-migrant narrative embraced by President Kais Saied in recent weeks.

  3. No water at night as Tunisia suffers shortage

    Lipika Pelham

    BBC World Service Newsroom

    A large bottle collects water from a tap.
    Image caption: Drought, mismanagement and system faults are being blamed

    Drinking water supplies are being cut off at night in cities across Tunisia in a bid to maintain reserves in the country.

    A severe drought is being blamed for the shortage, along with poor water management and faulty infrastructure.

    In some areas, as much as much as 50% of water is lost before reaching the tap.

    Correspondents say the decision to limit water supplies will add to existing public anger about inflation and inadequate public services.

  4. The role Qatar played in Rusesabagina's release

    Samba Cyuzuzo

    BBC Great Lakes

    Paul Rusesabagina is set to fly to Qatar, before joining his family in the US, as soon as his request to leave Rwanda is approved.

    He was released from prison on Friday night after negotiations brokered by Doha and is believed to be hosted by Qatari representatives in Kigali.

    Mr Rusesabagina, a former hotel manager, was portrayed as a hero in the Hollywood film Hotel Rwanda, and was sentenced to 25 years for terrorism by a Rwandan court in what supporters called a sham trial.

    In 2020 he was tricked to going to Rwanda in a private jet, thinking he was heading to neighbouring Burundi.

    On Friday, Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Majed al-Ansari said on Twitter that “the procedure for his transfer” to Qatar was under way, from where Mr Rusesabagina will head to the US.

    On Tuesday last week Rwanda's President Paul Kagame was in Doha, where he met Qatar's ruler Amir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani. Mr Rusesabagina was released just three days later.

    The US has long demanded Mr Rusesabagina's release, but Washington hasn’t been on very good terms with Rwanda for its views on the government's human rights record.

    For Washington, Qatar which is a long-time US partner but also “a close friend and big investor in Rwanda’s aviation sector, was a good way to go”, Patrick Karamaga, a political science lecturer in the Democratic Republic of Congo, told BBC Great Lakes.

    In 2019, Qatar agreed to invest 60% in the $1.3bn (£1bn) project to build the biggest airport in East Africa in Bugesera, some 40km (25 miles) south-east of Kigali.

    The following year Qatar Airways bought 49% of the Rwandan state-owned carrier, Rwandair.

    “Rwanda would resist the US pressure but not to a request of a friend who is investing hundreds of million dollars,” Mr Karamaga says.

    On Friday, Mr al-Ansari said Qatar had become “a reliable international partner in resolving disputes through peaceful and diplomatic means”.

  5. Black Africans have no future in Tunisia - migrant

    Image caption: Some black Africans have been protesting against their treatment in Tunisia

    A migrant originally from Sierra Leone has told the BBC's Newsday programme that black people have no future in Tunisia due to escalating racial tensions with Arab people in the country.

    "In Tunisia, black sub-Saharan Africans will not have a future here and neither will our children," said Josephus Thomas, a construction worker.

    "We need evacuation," out of Tunisia he said, "even" if that meant going to another African country, he added.

    Some countries have been offering to repatriate their citizens, such as Ivory Coast and Guinea.

    The tensions started after President Kais Saied accused sub-Saharan African migrants living in the country of causing a crime wave and described them as a demographic threat.

    Since then black Africans have told the BBC they have faced increased racism in Tunisia.

    Mr Thomas described one frightening scene where he saw "Tunisian boys who were armed with sticks, sharp metal, knives and stones" chasing some Gambian, Senegalese and Guinean migrants.

    He went on to describe the situationion in Tunisia as "messy and horrible" and said he has attempted to leave by boat himself.

    “If I have the opportunity to leave by boat I will take it because it’s better than living in Tunisia where you don’t know what they might do to you next.”

    You can listen to the full Newsday interview here at 28 minutes in.