AFP | Published: 25 November 2017
Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni gives a press conference after meeting Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi on November 25, 2017
The influx of Tunisian migrants crossing the Mediterranean to Italy is back under control after a spike in numbers at the end of summer, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said Saturday.
“After some problems over the course of the summer, the accord started to work very effectively again,” he told reporters in Tunis, referring to a six-year-old agreement between the two countries aimed at curbing illegal immigration.
According to the International Organization for Migration, 1,357 Tunisians reached the Italian coastline between January and August, a number which jumped to more than 1,400 in the month of September alone.
Migration has become a burning issue in Tunisia since October 6 when around 40 people were killed in a collision between a migrant boat and a Tunisian navy vessel.
Migrants use small vessels headed for the Italian islands of Sicily and Lampedusa.
The Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights said in a report last year that half of Tunisian youths from low-income areas were thinking of leaving the country, and one in three was prepared to do so clandestinely.
The NGO said increasing poverty and unemployment in the North African country were to blame.