France will provide Tunisia with 25.8 million euros to help it halt boats carrying migrants across the Mediterranean, French Minister of the Interior Gerald Darmanin said during a Monday visit to Tunis.
In addition to a 105-million-euro European Union aid package that the EU commission president announced earlier this month to assist Tunisia in combating a sharp increase in migrant departures, the funds will be used to purchase equipment and provide training.
Perilous sea crossings, frequently on overcrowded, fragile vessels, have resulted in an appalling number of drownings, as well as a significant increase in migrant arrivals in Italy this year, causing political unrest in Europe.
The sinking of a boat carrying hundreds of migrants from Libya to Greece highlighted the dangers of the journey last week.
President Kais Saied of Tunisia has stated that his country will not serve as a European border patrol, but he also declared in February a crackdown on sub-Saharan African migrants residing in the country.
This crackdown, which was proclaimed using racially charged language, appeared to have prompted an increase in Tunisian emigration.
Darmanin stated, “Tunisia’s role is not to be a coast guard, but we are working to reduce departures.”
He stated that he had also submitted to Tunisian authorities a list of individuals he wished to return from France to Tunisia. According to him, Tunisia had urged France to be more flexible regarding visas for its citizens.
As the country’s economy continues to deteriorate and a fiscal crisis looms, the number of Tunisian migrants is also on the rise.
If Tunisia agrees to an International Monetary Fund program that includes subsidy cuts and the restructuring of state-owned companies, the EU has also proposed approximately 1 billion euros to assist the country’s finances.
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