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Tunisia Refuses To Be “Reception Centre” For Migrants

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Tunisia, a north-African country which has signed a  €1 billion deal with the European Union on Sunday, has refused to be a “reception centre” for the sub-Saharan migrants returning from Italy or any other European country.

While authorities in Tunisia have no intentions to agree to a contract like the one between UK and Rwanda, the north- African country has agreed to take back only Tunisians who have entered the EU improperly. 

This is disadvantageous for the Italian prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, who drafted the migration bill in June, allowing authorities to send people  back to the countries they migrated from even if they lived in the country for a few days or weeks.

The decision of the Tunisia president, Kais Saied, who made it clear that Tunisia will not act as a “border guard” for the EU, has been confirmed by a senior EU official. The source said, “That is a point on which the Tunisian authorities feel they have communicated this clearly – that they … shouldn’t be a reception point for irregular migrants generally coming from Europe.”

This still means that a large number of people will be returning to Tunisia. An estimated 8,000 people entered the EU irregularly from Tunisia in April, 1,000 in May and 5,000 in June.

A pact on migration was approved on Sunday night by Ursula Von der Leyen, the European Commission Chief, Meloni and Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister after their second aerial tour of Tunisia within five weeks.  The deal is about the return of a significant number of Tunisian migrants who smuggled across the Mediterranean and entered Italy, as well as take up a measure to facilitate legal routes for Tunisians to enter EU for work or study.

Under the deal, €105 million will be provided to enable Tunisia to deal with those who smuggle people. About €15m will be given to collaborate with humanitarian organisations such as the Red Crescent to help migrants with transportation to return to their native countries.

Since February, Tunisia has been subjected to criticism of how it deals with its migrants, after Saied held “hordes” of migrants from sub-Saharan African countries responsible for altering the “plot” of the country’s population map.

Cash-strapped Tunisia, an important path for those who wanted to migrate to Europe, has led to racial tension. This tension was on its peak after a Tunisian man died on 3 July in Sfax city in a conflict between local people and migrants. Ever since, a huge number of migrants evacuated their shelters in Tunisia or were forced to leave and move to desert regions along the borders of Algeria and Libya, left alone to survive in the scorching heat.

Von der Leyen considered the initiative as innovative and said it is undertaking “significant” efforts to tackle the erratic migration through the Mediterranean.

From early June, the pact was undergoing negotiation, when EU interior ministers drafted the migration laws which included transport to return to home countries, new regulations on transferring migrants across the bloc and charging  countries €20,000 per head, who could not take in their allocated people during asylum process.

In a meeting on Friday, an official of the Tunisia national security council stated that sub-Saharan Africans who were not registered in Tunisia were given 3 billion dinars (about $ 9 billion) in compensation from their home countries, during the first six months of 2023.

The declaration requires the leaders of the bloc to agree, however, it is currently seeking to enforce plans to develop their economic and educational relations.

The deal includes the EU and Tunisia working on a partnership to provide renewable energy using solar and wind farms with electricity delivered to the EU via a new submarine cable linked to Italy.

The proposal of € 900 million  in macro finance is still open, as well as the EU will resume its discussion on an agreement related to Tunisia while discussing on enabling it to be a member of the Horizon Europe and Erasmus+ student exchange programmes.

EU helps Tunisia to help tackle migration issue

The EU agreed to enter into a €1bn deal with Tunisia to aid its migration issue, as the Tunisian president criticised those who provide migrants “sympathy without respect” for their goal to have equity in life.

The deal with Tunisia was praised by Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, which includes efforts to act on the erratic migration across the mediterranean, as a part of its shared wealth and balance.

The deal with Tunisia on migration was announced after the country’s president, Kais Saied, unveiled the “shocking” number of people-migrating into his country. Officials stated that it cost about £760m in the first half of 2023 in compensation from sub-Saharan Africa.

The deal was announced in Tunisia on Sunday evening by Von der Leyen and the prime ministers of Italy and the Netherlands, Saied accused humanitarian organisations for disseminating false information about Tunisia and not opting to focus on the measures to deal with criminal gangs who are responsible for such dangerous actions.

Saied stated that people across the globe share the need to live in harmony and have value in their futures as well as respect instead of sympathy.

In these few months, a huge number of people who were not registered travelled to the coastal city of Sfax, with the plan to head for Europe in boats operated by smugglers, causing deadly migration problem for Tunisia.

Many people, who either fled from their homes or were forced to leave by Tunisian authorities moved to the desert regions without water, food and shelter, were rescued by Libyan border guards, according to a report of Agence France-Presse on Sunday.

After the racial tension in Sfax, a significant number of people from sub-Saharan African countries were forcefully shifted to the desert areas on the borders of Libya and Algeria.  The migrants appeared to be exhausted and dehydrated, sitting or lying on the sand and sheltered themselves with shrubs from the summer heat rising up to 40C (104F).

Around 80 people were discovered in an unpopulated area near Assah, a neighbour of Tunisia-Libya, approximately 93 miles (150km) west of Tripoli.

Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte, said the deal is a measure to prevent people from taking on the dangerous journey across the seas to Italy and damage smugglers’ business. 

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