Home Institution

Columbia University

Publication Date

Spring 2011

Program Name

Tunisia: Emerging Identities in North Africa


“We are a part of the revolution, even if we are five or six hundred kilometers from Tunis, ” though the muggy tent I am sitting in feels like it could be much further than several hundred kilometers from the country’s capital or indeed from any city of today’s world. In fact, my mind wanders in a heat haze, it feels like it could even be on a different planet… “We are a part of it,” he repeats. Outside, I can hear the determined desert winds raise sand high up and into the clouds, covering the landscape in a filmy, beige dust.

I am at the Tunisian Red Crescent camps, located in a no-man’s land between the nearest town of Ben Gardane and, in the other direction, Ras Ajdir, the border crossing between southern Tunisia and northwestern Libya, where approximately 20,000 migrants and refugees have been housed in temporary camps since February[1]. That was over two months ago, when the situation in Libya still maintained its hopeful title, the ‘Libyan Revolution,’ a name inspired by the successful uprisings of the nation’s neighbors on either side, Tunisia and Egypt. Today, May 2, I am visiting the refugee camps at Ras Ajdir, when the media’s name for what is happening on the other side of the border has degenerated to the ‘Libyan Crisis’ or even the ‘Libyan Civil War.’ Moreover, I have come on the third day of a desert sandstorm that will, in the upcoming week, destroy half of the refugee tents set up by the Tunisian delegation of the Red Crescent, or the Croissant Rouge Tunisien (CRT).

[1] Le Croissant Rouge Tunisien. http://www.tunisianredcrescent.org/fr/index.php

The UN Refugee Agency. http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/home.


Arts and Humanities | Critical and Cultural Studies | Inequality and Stratification | Peace and Conflict Studies | Politics and Social Change


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