The African Union cancelled a conference it planned to hold in Tunisia later this month over reported attacks on migrants in the North African country. 

Nairametrics gathered that the cancellation came shortly after the union criticized the country’s government for inciting the attacks. 

According to Bloomberg, the conference on fighting illicit financial flows in Africa was scheduled for mid-March. However, the meeting has now been postponed and no new host country has been chosen. 

Violent crime: Hundreds of Sub-Saharan African nationals have fled Tunisia since President Kais Saied blamed migrants for a rise in violent crime. He ordered security forces to stop all illegal migration and expel all ‘undocumented migrants’ for rising crime and other social vices in the country. Nairametrics reported that Ivory Coast, Mali and Guinea began evacuating their citizens from Tunisia last week.  

Meanwhile, human-rights groups have accused Saied of stoking xenophobia to deflect from a growing economic and political crisis. The African Union stated on Feb. 24 urging Tunisia to refrain from racialized hate speech that could bring people harm. 

Government denies being responsible: Tunisia on Sunday rejected responsibility for the racial violence and pledged to hold to account anyone responsible for attacking migrants, regardless of their residency status. 

The Tunisian state is the target of a campaign accusing it of racism, while it only sought to ensure “laws of the land are respected to avoid spreading chaos,” the presidency said in a statement.  

About 21,000 Sub-Saharan Africans are living in Tunisia, according to FTDES, a social and economic rights advocacy group.