Italy delivers vehicles to Tunisia to help fight irregular migration

The Italian government has donated 50 off-road vehicles to Tunisia to help fight irregular migration to and from the North African country.

The 50 4×4 off-road vehicles were donated by the Italian interior ministry and delivered to Tunisia’s national guard. The national guard in Tunisia is responsible for securing the country’s borders and fighting against smugglers.

The donation was “made possible thanks to financing from the foreign ministry’s Africa Fund, and is part of a framework of fruitful operational and security collaboration between the governments of Italy and Tunisia,” the interior ministry said.

Interior minister Matteo Salvini said, “Soon there will be other concrete initiatives. On the international plan as well, we are showing that we are going from words to facts.” The country’s embassy in Tunisia called the delivery of the vehicles a reiteration of Italy’s support for the security in Tunisia by contributing to the country’s border control efforts.

In October, an Italian delegation led by Salvini travelled to Tunis to negotiate an agreement to increase the repatriations of rejected Tunisian asylum seekers and to work towards decreasing arrivals by sea. During the visit, Salvini reached an agreement for Italy to provide economic aid to Tunisia in exchange for stronger efforts to block illegal migration through the country and onwards to through the Mediterranean to Europe.

As part of the understanding reached at the time, Salvini promised his country would give Tunisia two cutters and four additional boats over the coming months, along with radar systems. He also promised Italy would help train police forces in Tunisia.

Italy has reached a similar deal with Libya in 2018, delivering boats and training to the Libyan coastguard. In exchange, the Libyan coastguard intercepted and rescued irregular migrants on route to Italy. In 2018, they intercepted and returned 15,000 irregular migrants to Libya.

TMP – 26/03/2019

Photo: Migrants live in tents on the beach near Genoa, Italy. (Shutterstock)