Migration: Tunisia calls for EU’s solidarity

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The head of Tunisian diplomacy Nabil Ammar has called for the EU to show “solidarity” with his country, especially in the fight against illegal immigration, by receiving the European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson.

Tunisia, whose coastline is less than 150 km from the Italian island of Lampedusa, regularly records attempts by migrants, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa, to leave for Italy.

The Tunisian guards announced that they rescued or intercepted more than 14,000 illegal migrants, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa, during the first three months of the year, more than five times the number recorded for the same period in 2022.

Departures intensified after a February 21 speech by Tunisian President Kais Saied denouncing illegal immigration as a demographic threat to his country.

During his meeting with the European Commissioner, Mr Ammar stressed “the importance of the European Union’s support for Tunisia to carry out its socio-economic reforms … in the framework of a partnership based on mutual respect and solidarity to better manage common challenges, including migration,” according to a statement from his ministry.

He also “recalled the need to address migration issues in a comprehensive approach based on a balance between socio-economic development and the promotion of legal channels of mobility on the one hand and the fight against trafficking in human beings and migrants on the other.

In a statement announcing Johansson’s visit, the EU said its discussions would focus on the joint fight against migrant smuggling in order to contribute to the prevention of irregular migration, returns and reintegration, ensuring the protection of the most vulnerable migrants, as well as to legal migration.

At the end of March, Tunisia called also on the EU to show “more understanding” towards it after several European leaders sounded the alarm about the crisis in the country and the risks it poses for Europe.

The head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, had warned on March 20 that the situation in Tunisia was “very dangerous”, even mentioning a risk of “collapse” of the state that could “cause migration flows to the EU and lead to instability in the MENA region” (Middle East and North Africa).

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