Refugee and migrant case management in Tunis

In an interview with Sana Bousbih from Terre d’Asile Tunisie, we explore the case management system and referral network currently operating in Tunis. 


IDC: How do you determine the level of case management needed for a migrant?

SA: After an initial screening of migrants who visit us at the “Maison”, one of our resident caseworkers conduct an in-depth needs-assessment interview in order to evaluate the individual’s level of vulnerability, strengths or resilience.  The caseworker classifies the case as “Green” or “Red”. “Green” flagged cases indicate less-intensive case management such as administrative support. “Red” is the emergency protocol in which one of over 20 specialised partner NGOs are mobilised.




IDC: What are some examples of Terre d’Asile Tunisie’s referral partnerships?

SA: If the visitor is identified as a victim of trafficking at the “Maison”, the individual is immediately referred to the Anti-Human Trafficking Office, part of the National High Authority for Combating Human Trafficking in Tunisia. Since November 2017, sub-Sahara African Embassies have been involved with the referral mechanism and by mid-2018, the system will be formalised. If the visitor needs emergency housing, we appeal to grassroots NGOs who are working to support vulnerable people in safe, open shelters where psychologists and doctors are available. For people who are in need of sexual and reproductive health advice, we partner with the government’s existing services and accompany individuals to the Family Planning clinics, run by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We refer the individual to our legal programme to find a suitable pro bono lawyer or sometimes to a local university legal “clinic” so that students may be trained on the legal aspects of casework.


IDC: What are some of the other activities that Terre d’Asile Tunisie runs?

SA: We run initiatives to raise awareness about our practices. For example, through the “Civil Society Empowerment Platform”, we sensitise grassroots organisations to refugee and migrant issues in Tunisia. Our network of pro bono lawyers meet at the “Maison” to discuss the administration of legal advice, share challenges they face in relation to upholding the human rights of migrants and find solutions together. With our partner, Médicins du Monde Tunisia, we run an advocacy programme to inform doctors that they may apply Constitutional rights to migrants.


Terre d’Asile Tunisie

Case management as an alternative to detention

A growing body of international research, best practice and evidence shows that the most effective alternatives to detention are those that engage migrants in immigration procedures, in particular through tailored case management. Case management centres on understanding and responding to the unique needs and challenges of the individual and their context – building on their vulnerabilities. The approach facilitates access to support services and networks.

The services run from Terre d’Asile Tunisie’s ‘Maison du droits et des hommes’ is one of many examples of case management systems that are described in the new report, There Are Alternatives: Africa (available here). It was launched alongside the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) 62nd Ordinary Session where the IDC ran a side event on alternatives to detention identified across the African continent that are more humane, less expensive and more efficient at achieving case resolution. See the agenda here.



The new report complements There are alternatives – a handbook to prevent unnecessary immigration detention and builds on IDC’s 2016 report Alternatives to Immigration Detention in Africa  which was the first publication in the series “Alternatives in Africa”.