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Italy, Tunisia agree to counter irregular migration in Mediterranean

April 13, 2023 at 5:35 pm

Tunisian Foreign Minister Nabil Ammar (L) and Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani (R) shake hands after giving a joint press conference at the end of their meeting at the Italian Foreign Ministry headquarters in Rome, Italy, on April 13, 2023 [Riccardo De Luca – Anadolu Agency]

Italy and Tunisia agreed to counter the flow of irregular migration in the Mediterranean, which led Italy to declare state of emergency earlier this week, local media reported on Thursday, Anadolu News Agency reports.

Rome and Tunis consider the fight against human smuggling to be fundamental, said Italian Foreign Minister, Antonio Tajani, during a joint press conference with his visiting Tunisian counterpart, Nabil Ammar, according to the public broadcaster, RAI.

He said there are already cooperation agreements between the two countries, and these will be seriously implemented to address the growing problem.

READ: Italy calls on IMF to release Tunisia loan to tackle new wave of migrants to Europe

Tajani, moreover, revealed that Italy favours more aid to Tunisia for the reforms the country will implement and will help it secure funds from IMF.

He also claimed that it is not the business of others to decide who would govern Tunisia.

“We are not colonisers,” Tajani said.

Ammar, for his part, said: “Tunisia is willing to strengthen cooperation with all partners to combat human trafficking and to protect migrants. We are ready to do everything possible.”

He, however, stressed that medium- and long-term solutions are of economics.

“We need to rehabilitate our economy and are counting on Italy, an EU member,” Ammar said.

Italy declared a six-month state of emergency, Tuesday, to help it deal with a surge in the number of migrants arriving in the country via the Mediterranean Sea.

In recent weeks, Italy has seen a significant rise in the number of migrants and refugees arriving on its southern shores from North Africa, with over 3,000 coming in the last three days alone.

Frontex, on Thursday, remarked that the Central Mediterranean route became the most active illegal crossing route to the EU, with some 28,000 crossing in the first quarter of the year.

“Organised crime groups took advantage of better weather and political volatility in some countries of departure to try to smuggle as many migrants as possible across the Central Mediterranean from Tunisia and Libya,” it said.

READ: Irregular migrant flow to Europe up by 26% in first quarter