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Tunisia and Italy increase cooperation on migration

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi (L) and Italian President Sergio Mattarella (R) hold a joint press in Rome, Italy on 8 February 2017 [Barış Seçkin/Anadolu]
Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi (L) and Italian President Sergio Mattarella (R) hold a joint press in Rome, Italy on 8 February 2017 [Barış Seçkin/Anadolu]

Tunisia and Italy have agreed on greater cooperation in tackling illegal migration and human trafficking across the Mediterranean in an agreement signed yesterday.

The agreement, which will also help strengthen Tunisia’s borders with Algeria and Libya, was signed by Tunisian Foreign Minister Khemaies Jhinaoui and Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano during a state visit to Italy by Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi.

During talks between Essebsi and Italian President Sergio Mattarella yesterday, Rome reaffirmed the two countries’ commitment in bringing about political stability in Libya by increasing the “partnership in the fight against terrorism and human trafficking”.

Read: Tunisian Minister warns of alarming rates of violence against women, children

The agreement between the two countries comes as the EU announced during its summit in Malta that it would increase collaboration with Libya’s neighbours in tackling the crisis in Libya.

Last week, Fayez Al-Sarraj, the head of the Presidency Council, visited Rome to sign an agreement with Italian Prime Minister, Paolo Gentiloni, on curbing the flow of migrants across the Mediterranean. The agreement also included proposals to return migrants to Libya and then onto their countries of origin.

However when a similar idea was proposed at the EU summit, it was criticised by Libya as well as international humanitarian agencies.

Read: ‘EU trade agreement would destabilise foundations of democracy in Tunisia’

Outgoing UN special envoy to Libya, Martin Kobler also rejected the idea during his address to the Security Council yesterday.

“Right now migrants cannot be repatriated in Libya,” Kobler explained. “I understand Europe’s concerns, but repatriation cannot work because of the humanitarian conditions in the country.”

Kobler went on to further stress how the root cause of the crisis lies in the problems that force people out of their homes in Sub-Saharan Africa into Libya in a bid to reach Europe.

He also reiterated how Libya is a victim of the migrant crisis just as much as Europe feels it is.

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AfricaEurope & RussiaItalyNewsTunisia
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