- The meeting, held in the capital Tunis was also graced by the members of the EU Commission for Internal Affairs, Swedish Ylva Johansson, and Hungarian Oliver Varhelyi.
- Tackling illegal immigration, it was specified, means addressing the problem at its root.
- The country's GDP decreased by around 21.6% hence fuelling the high number of youths illegally migrating to Italy in pursuit of greener pastures.
Tunisian president, Kais Saied, on Monday met a joint Italian-EU delegation to discuss the growing illegal migratory flows towards the Italian coasts. Among the participants were the Italian Foreign Minister, Luigi di Maio, as well as Italy’s Interior Minister, Luciana Lamorgese.
The meeting, held in the Tunisian capital, Tunis, was also graced by the members of the EU Commission for Internal Affairs, Ylva Johansson of Sweden, and Oliver Varhelyi of Hungary.
Tunisian interim Prime Minister, Hichem Mechichi, reported that following the meeting, Tunisia took the opportunity to reiterate the importance of addressing the causes that push hundreds of Tunisians to leave their country illegally.
Tackling illegal immigration, it was specified, means addressing the problem at its root, as security agreements alone are not enough to curb the menace.
As reported by Mechichi, who also met the two delegations, managing security is important, but it does not provide permanent solutions to the phenomenon of illegal immigration and related problems.
In this regard, both Italy and the European Union have expressed their willingness to cooperate and provide support to the North African country to advance its economic and social development through “internal” projects, that are aimed at Tunisian institutions.
Specifically, the two parties will create a joint technical committee that will work to develop new projects, also aimed at the youth component, to ensure the development of inland regions and contain the phenomenon of migration.
The premier’s sentiments were also echoed by the nation’s President, Saied, who reported that the three parties agreed in adopting an inclusive approach aimed at combating poverty and unemployment.
The Italian Minister, Di Maio, on his part, said that Italy is ready to support Tunisia in the creation of jobs and programs for young people, and that the two nations will continue their negotiations aimed at finding formulas of “bilateral cooperation.”
In turn, Minister Lamorgese said that “the issue of landings must be addressed at European level,” and the presence of EU representatives at the meeting on 17 August is a sign of the importance of the problem for Brussels as well.
The interior Minister then reported that migrant smuggling affects Italy in particular, and, specifically, Sicily and Lampedusa, and poses further challenges, especially in the context of the coronavirus pandemic.
However, Lamorgese reported, Tunisia can count on Italy and Europe, but it will also have to commit itself. According to the minister, thanks to the projects that will be launched, young Tunisians must not see Italy as a landing point but instead build their lives at home in Tunisia.
Currently, Tunisia’s economy is in bad shape and, as per data recently released by the local National Statistics Institute, the unemployment rate in the country has reached 18%, a defined unprecedented level. Furthermore, in the second quarter of 2020, the country’s GDP decreased by around 21.6%, hence fueling the high number of youths illegally migrating to Italy in pursuit of greener pastures.
According to reports from the Italian Interior Minister, the number of immigrants arriving in Italy has increased by almost 150% in the last 12 months. Between 1 August 2019 and 31 July 2020, 21,618 immigrants landed on the Italian coasts, with an increase of 148.7% compared to the number of migrants in the same period last year, equal to 8,691. 80% of them are migrants from Libya and Tunisia.