France gave Tunisia an aid package worth over 26 million euros (around $28 million) on Monday, as part of its ongoing efforts to stem the influx of undocumented migrants across the Mediterranean.
During his time in Tunis, the French Minister of the Interior, Gerald Darmanin, made the announcement on the “bilateral aid of 25.8 million dedicated to migration issues.”
During a press conference held after a meeting with his Tunisian and German colleagues, he stated that it would enable Tunisia to “acquire the necessary equipment and organize useful training, in particular for Tunisian police and border guards.” This would be possible thanks to the agreement.
In a meeting with Darmanin and German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, the President of Tunisia, Kais Saied, issued a warning that his country will not “guard borders other than its own.”
He continued by saying, “We will not accept that Tunisia becomes a country of resettlement” for migrants. “We will not accept that.”
After characterizing migrants as a demographic threat to his nation in March, Saied prompted a reaction with his words, which led to an increase in attacks against people who were from sub-Saharan Africa in that country.
On Monday, he made the following statement: “I am sure that we will find adequate solutions with a common will, a new way of seeing things,” which he added.
The extremely indebted nation of Tunisia is now in discussions with the International Monetary Fund in order to get a bailout loan. Despite this, Tunisia continues to serve as a vital launching pad for migrants and asylum-seekers hoping to make the dangerous journey to Europe.
Darmanin praised the “European approach to the migration challenge” and stated that together with African authorities, they will “fight against the networks of smugglers” and support the repatriation of refugees to the countries in which they were born and raised.
Darmanin added that “too many people take reckless risks, which are often exploited by smugglers who are the real criminals we must fight.” He was referring to the sinking of a migrant boat off the coast of Greece on Wednesday, which resulted in the deaths of at least 78 people.
In the meanwhile, the German minister of the interior stated that it is very necessary to “put an end to these terrible deaths at sea.”
According to the International Organization for Migration, 1,166 fatalities or disappearances of migrants have been registered since the beginning of 2023. This compares to the total number of 2,406 migrants who died or disappeared in the Mediterranean in 2022.
Faeser emphasized the significance of “respect for human rights” on many occasions while speaking about the activities of the police and border guards in Tunisia.
The promise made by France comes exactly one week after Ursula von der Leyen, the head of the European Commission, pledged 105 million euros to Tunisia for the purpose of managing its borders and combating human trafficking.
The approval of the almost $2 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund, which has been under negotiation since the previous year, is a prerequisite for the EU money that is a component of a bigger financial aid package that is intended to stimulate the economy of Tunisia.
However, Saied has disregarded what he refers to as the “diktats” of the Washington-based lender on several occasions.