Italy and Tunisia sign economic agreements to stem flow of migrants to Europe

Italy and Tunisia sign economic agreements to stem flow of migrants to Europe
Photo: Giorgia Meloni meets with Kais Saied in Tunis on April 17, 2024 / Credit: Creative Commons/Italian Government

Giorgia Meloni, the head of Italy’s right-wing government, met with Tunisian president Kais Saied in Tunis on Wednesday to sign three agreements meant to slow the tide of migrants to Italy’s shores. 

More than 153,000 African migrants made the journey to Italy last year, according to data from Italy’s Interior Ministry. The majority are sub-Saharan but Tunisian migrants also come looking for work.

The signed agreements provide funds for various projects meant to bolster economic opportunities in Tunisia and dissuade migrants from leaving the African continent. 

They include funding for education initiatives, $53 million for renewable energy projects and lines of credit for small and medium-sized businesses. 

Meloni also acknowledged Saied’s concerns that Tunisia was becoming a dumping ground for migrants Europe didn’t want.  She promised to increase efforts to repatriate migrants to their home countries and not send them to Tunisia. 

Over the past year, there has been a significant crackdown on sub-Saharan African migrants in Tunisia. Hundreds have been kicked out of the country. Some were left stranded in the desert without water and food, drawing condemnation from human rights activists.  

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