On Friday, October 20th, Italy solidified its commitment to assisting Tunisia in managing migrant pressures by signing a landmark agreement. The deal, finalized on Friday, will see Italy welcoming approximately 4,000 Tunisian workers.
This significant move is in line with Italy’s previous pledges to support the North African nation, which has been grappling with increasing pressures from migrants at its borders. The agreement was signed during an official visit by Italy’s Foreign Minister, Antonio Tajani, to the Tunisian capital. During his visit, Tajani was scheduled to engage in discussions with his Tunisian counterpart, Nabil Ammar, as well as President Kais Saied.
The newly inked agreement outlines provisions for regular migration channels specifically designed for “qualified workers” from Tunisia seeking employment opportunities in Italy. In addition to facilitating legal migration pathways, Italy has also committed to assisting Tunisia in its ongoing efforts to combat migrant smuggling operations and to create sustainable job opportunities for its youth demographic.
Recent data highlights the urgency of the situation. Tunisia has been experiencing significant migratory pressures, especially from sub-Saharan African nations. Italy’s official documents indicate that Tunisia is the primary country for repatriations from Italy, with a total of 1,615 migrants having been returned to Tunisia this year alone.
Furthermore, Italy witnessed a sharp increase in sea migrant arrivals in 2023, with numbers nearly doubling compared to the same period in the previous year. A staggering 91% of these arrivals have been traced back to Tunisia. This surge in migrant flows has prompted Italy to intensify its collaborative efforts with Tunisian authorities to effectively address the situation.
Italian Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi recently called upon the European Union to formalize an agreement that would bolster the African state’s capabilities to prevent unauthorized migrant boat departures.
The political landscape in Tunisia has also been a topic of international discussion. President Saied, who was previously invited to a migration-focused conference hosted in Rome in July, has faced criticism following his decision to dissolve the parliament and assume decree powers. This move has been labeled by opposition groups as a coup.
Italy’s decision to sign this agreement underscores its commitment to fostering strong bilateral relations with Tunisia and addressing the broader challenges posed by migration in the Mediterranean region.