May 23, 2024

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Signing an agreement between Tunisia and the European Union to stop immigration

Signing an agreement between Tunisia and the European Union to stop immigration

TUNIS (Reuters) – Tunisia and the European Union signed a “strategic partnership” agreement on Sunday that includes fighting people smugglers and tightening borders during a sharp increase in the number of boats leaving the North African country bound for Europe.

The deal comes after weeks of talks and Europe’s pledge of massive aid to Tunisia amounting to 1 billion euros ($1.12 billion) to help its battered economy, bail out public finances and deal with the migration crisis. Most of the money depends on economic reforms.

“Includes agreements on disrupting the business model of people smugglers and human traffickers, strengthening border controls, improving registration and returns. All essential measures to strengthen efforts to stop irregular migration,” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Twitter.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the bloc would allocate 100 million euros to Tunisia to help it fight illegal immigration. The deal promotes macroeconomic stability, trade and investment, the green energy transition, and legal immigration.

Thousands of undocumented African migrants have flocked to the city of Sfax in recent months, seeking to head to Europe on smugglers’ boats, which represents an unprecedented migration crisis for Tunisia.

“We are very happy,” said the Italian Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, “it is another important step towards establishing a true partnership between Tunisia and the European Union, which can address in an integrated manner the migration crisis.”

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Meloni, whose country has suffered from a sharp rise in the number of migrant boats, said that there will be an international conference on migration in Rome next Sunday with a number of heads of state, including Tunisian President Kais Saied.

Official data showed that some 75,065 migrants by boat had arrived in Italy by July 14, compared to 31,920 in the same period last year. More than half of them departed from Tunisia, bypassing Libya, which has traditionally been the main departure point.

Said said this month that his country would not become a border guard for Europe.

($1 = 0.8907 euros)

(Covering) By Tarek Amara Additional reporting by Crispan Palmer in Rome and Anthony Deutsch in Amsterdam Writing by Tarek Amara and Hatem Maher Editing by Andrew Cawthorne

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