Italy wants no more illegal migrants, minister tells Tunisia

Aug. 17, 2020

Italy has no more room for illegal migrants, its foreign minister Luigi Di Maio said Monday on a visit to Tunisia, from where many of them cross the Mediterranean Sea.

After a meeting with the Tunisian President Kais Saied, Italy’s top diplomat said Rome “is ready to present all the necessary aid to Tunisia” to combat illegal immigration.

But he stressed that “there is no question of leaving in Italy those who arrive illegally,” according to a statement by the Tunisian presidency.

Italy has been struggling in recent months to deal with daily arrivals of hundreds of migrants to its southern shores, a task complicated by security measures imposed by the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

Tunisia meanwhile is battling high unemployment and political instability, pushing more so-called economic migrants to cross to Italy.

Migrant arrivals to Italy rose by nearly 150 percent over the past year, with the majority coming by boat from Tunisia, Italy’s interior ministry said on Saturday.