Tunisian TV series highlights illegal migrants’ plight

The series sheds light on the social conditions which cause young Tunisians, men and women, to leave home on a risky trip that offers no guarantee of a better life.
Tuesday 27/04/2021
Poster of Harga TV series showin Tunisian actress Wajiha Jendoubi. (Facebook)
Poster of Harga TV series showin Tunisian actress Wajiha Jendoubi. (Facebook)

TUNIS--A new TV series called ‘Harga’, by director Lassaad Oueslati, has brought to Tunisian living rooms during the month of Ramadan the plight of illegal migrants as they struggle to flee poverty at home and battle to survive the treacherous journey across the sea.

Written by Imed Eddine Hakim, Harga tells the story of a group of Tunisians from different parts of the country who don’t know each other and find themselves crossing the Mediterranean to Italy aboard a rickety boat.

The title Harga evokes the Arabic term “to burn”, in reference to the illegal migrants practice of burning their travel document to prevent their identification and deportation back home by European authorities.

Tunisian director Lassaad Oueslati speaks during an interview in Tunis. (AFP)
Tunisian director Lassaad Oueslati speaks during an interview in Tunis. (AFP)

The 20-episode series was supposed to be filmed between the two shores, one-third at sea, with the last part in a reception centre in Palermo, but after the coronavirus crisis the series was limited to filming in Tunisia.

The series sheds light on the social conditions which cause young Tunisians, men and women, to leave home on a risky trip that offers no guarantee of a better life. Veteran actress Wajiha Jendoubi plays the compelling role of a mother who encourages her son to illegally migrate. But once he does, she has to live with the uncertainty of her son’s fate and the responsibility she bears on her shoulders in his decision.

The series shows the common predicament faced by Tunisians and sub-Saharan Africans as both groups share the same boat and the same fears of drowning or falling prey to traffickers and other opportunistic predators.