EU approves €1B deal with Tunisia to curb irregular migration

The EU has finalized a €1b deal with Tunisia to address irregular migration, as the Tunisian president criticized those who show sympathy without respect towards migrants striving for equity in their lives.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen praised the agreement with Tunisia, highlighting its significant measures to combat dangerous irregular migration in the Mediterranean and promote shared prosperity and stability.

The partnership on migration with Tunisia follows President Kais Saied’s recent revelation of the alarming scale of people-smuggling in the country, with officials estimating remittances from sub-Saharan Africa at around $1B in the first half of 2023.

President Saied, alongside Von der Leyen and the prime ministers of Italy and the Netherlands, announced the deal in Tunisia, while accusing humanitarian organizations for spreading misinformation about the country instead of focusing on dismantling criminal networks involved in the deadly smuggling business.

Saied emphasized the global need for coexistence, effective equity, and respect for individuals’ futures, rather than mere sympathy.

The coastal city of Sfax has experienced an unprecedented influx of undocumented individuals in recent months, aiming to embark on journeys to Europe facilitated by human traffickers, creating a migration crisis in Tunisia.

According to Libyan border guards, dozens of people were rescued in the desert after being abandoned by Tunisian authorities without access to water, food, or shelter.

Racial unrest in Sfax led to hundreds of people from sub-Saharan African countries being forcibly taken to desert areas along the borders of Libya and Algeria, where they endured extreme heat and exhaustion, seeking shelter under shrubs.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte stated that the deal aims to prevent people from undertaking perilous and often fatal journeys across the sea to Italy, while also disrupting the business model of smugglers.

The EU leaders traveled to Tunisia to sign a memorandum of understanding on the €1bn package agreed upon in June. The agreement includes discussions on an association agreement between the EU and Tunisia, as well as granting Tunisian students access to the Erasmus exchange program.

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