Nabil Ammar, head of Tunisian diplomacy, on Thursday called on the European Union to show “solidarity” with his country, particularly in the fight against illegal immigration, by receiving European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson.
Tunisia, some portions of the coastline of which are less than 150 km from the Italian island of Lampedusa, very regularly records attempts by migrants, mainly from sub-Saharan African countries, to leave for Italy.
Tunisian guards announced that they had rescued or intercepted more than 1,400 illegal migrants, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa, in the first three months of the year, more than five times the number recorded for the same period of 2022.
The departures intensified after a speech on February 21 by Tunisian President Kais Saied slamming illegal immigration, presenting it as a demographic threat to his country.
During his meeting with the European Commissioner, Mr. Ammar notably underlined “the importance of the European Union’s support for Tunisia in carrying out its socio-economic reforms within the framework of a partnership based on mutual respect and solidarity to better manage common challenges, including the theme of migration”, according to a press release from his ministry.
He also “recalled the need to deal with migration issues using a global approach based on a balance between, on the one hand, socio-economic development and the promotion of legal means of mobility and, on the other hand, the fight against human trafficking. humans and migrants”.
In a statement announcing Ms Johansson’s visit, the EU said that its discussions would focus “essentially on the joint fight against the smuggling of migrants in order to contribute to the prevention of irregular migration, returns and reintegration, ensuring the protection of the most vulnerable migrants, as well as legal migration”.
At the end of March, Tunisia called on the EU to show “more understanding” towards it after several European leaders sounded the alarm about the crisis the country is going through and the risks it poses for Europe. .
The head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, warned on March 20 that the situation in Tunisia was “very dangerous”, even mentioning a risk of “collapse” of the State likely to “cause migratory flows towards the EU and cause instability in the MENA region” (Middle East and North Africa).
This article is originally published on fr.africanews.com