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Migration rates from Tunisia to Italy increase despite EU deal

August 30, 2023 at 4:24 pm

194 migrants of different nationalities, 50 of which are unaccompanied, departed from Tunisia arrive at Brindisi after being rescued by the Spanish NGO Open Arms near Lampedusa, Italy on August 06, 2023 [Valeria Ferraro/Anadolu Agency]

The Italian Ministry of the Interior has published data showing a significant increase in the rates of Italy-bound irregular migrants from Tunisia in the period that followed Tunis signing an Italian-sponsored memorandum of understanding with the European Union with the aim of stopping irregular migration.

According to the interior ministry’s report, the number of irregular migration operations from Tunisia to Italy reached 29,676 in the six weeks that followed the signing of the deal. This marked a 69 per cent increase from the period before the agreement was struck.

In mid-July, the European Union reached a long-awaited agreement with Tunisia to cooperate in limiting the flow of irregular migration to Europe’s Mediterranean shores.

The memorandum of understanding was signed after a meeting was held between EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte, his Italian counterpart Giorgia Meloni as well as Tunisian President Kais Saied.

Under the memorandum of understanding, the European Union agreed to provide financial and technical support to Tunisia so the latter could deter irregular migration towards Europe. International law experts and humanitarian groups warned that the deal could lead to major violations of human rights instead of helping to solve complex issues.

READ: Arrivals of irregular migrants to Italy via Mediterranean more than doubled in 2023