Border Protests Surge in Ben Gardane, Urging Reopening of Ras Ajdair Crossing with Libya

In Ben Gardane, a border city in Tunisia, protests surged on Saturday evening, as residents rallied for the reopening of the Ras Ajdair border crossing with Libya and sought solutions for the thousands reliant on inter-trade between Tunisia and Libya.

At Al-Maghreb Al-Arabi crossroads in Ben Gardane, activists engaged in what’s dubbed “inter-trade” between the two nations congregated, urging authorities to swiftly intervene and collaborate with Libya to expedite the resumption of trade, halted since March 19 when Libyan authorities shut down the border.

Mustafa Abdel Kabir, Head of the Tunisian Observatory for Human Rights, affirmed that demonstrators set tires ablaze in the city center before security units intervened to disperse them. He emphasized that most protesters are either merchants engaged in intra-regional trade or workers in shops supplying goods to Libya, highlighting that the prolonged border closure has thrust them into involuntary unemployment, imperiling their livelihoods.

Tunisians remain barred from entering Libya following the closure of the Ras Ajdair border due to armed clashes, while Tunisians in Libya are allowed passage in the opposite direction, with some directed to cross via the Al-Dhiba Wazen border.

The Libyan Ministry of Interior issued immediate orders to seal the border in response to what it termed as outlaw groups assaulting border facilities to sow chaos.

According to a recent World Bank study, approximately 495 million liters of fuel are smuggled across the Libyan-Tunisian border, constituting over 17% of fuel consumption in Tunisia. These smuggled goods permeate most southern Tunisian governorates, extending as far as central Tunisia, more than 250 kilometers from the main supply hub in Ben Gardane.

Abdel Kabir anticipates the reopening of the Ras Ajdair border for the movement of individuals and goods in the coming days once the Libyan side completes necessary arrangements.