Marginalisation, insecurity and uncertainty on the Tunisian–Libyan border

Ben Guerdane and Dhehiba from the perspective of their inhabitants

The towns of Ben Guerdane and Dhehiba on the border between Tunisia and Libya are among the most marginalised places in Tunisia. In mainstream national discourse, they are seen as hotbeds of cross-border smuggling and terrorism. However, the experiences of people living in these towns show that restrictions on border trade and a lack of development caused by a history of marginalisation by the centre are the main sources of insecurity, rather than the terrorist threat.

This report outlines the needs and experiences of people living along the border, based on interviews with over 700 residents. It advances an analysis of the Tunisian transition from the viewpoint of its border areas. Based on its findings, the report calls for the need to direct our attention away from security-centric issues and responses, and to understand and address the drivers and dynamics of conflict in Tunisia’s southeastern border regions. The report outlines a number of recommendations for national and local authorities and security agencies in Tunisia in doing so.