Matteo Piantedosi in Tunis. On Monday, the Italian Interior Minister travelled to Tunisia to meet with President Kais Saied and his homologue Kamel Fekih. Both governments aim to increase their cooperation across three interconnected areas: migration, security and energy.
- Minister Piantedosi expressed Rome’s “full appreciation” for Tunis’ efforts to “guard the maritime and land borders, to counter the networks of traffickers and confiscate their boats, to rescue migrants at sea and bring them back to the mainland by providing them with assistance.”
- On the other hand, President Saied pointed at the growing number of victims to remark that the “security approach” has “shown its limitations in dealing with the phenomenon of irregular migration.”
A worsening crisis. According to the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights, over 200 people have drowned in a series of shipwrecks since the beginning of the year. Roughly 14,000 crossed from Tunisian to Italian shores in the first four months of 2023 – significantly more than in previous years, namely 5,300 arrivals in the same period in 2022 and 4,300 in 2021.
- Tunisia’s rough economic situation is fostering the security and social issues that act as a driver for migration, which the Italian government has promised to curb.
The Italian line. Rome intends to implement joint assisted voluntary repatriation programs with Tunis, along with a stronger on-the-ground effort to implement these policies, taking into account the strong migratory flow from sub-Saharan countries (compounded by the ongoing Sudanese conflict).
- Italy is providing technical assistance, intelligence and supplies, so as to put the government in a position to deal with the emergency…
- … and, to promote a long-term solution to instability, is investing in local infrastructures – energy first and foremost.
Image: Tunisian Presidency Twitter profile