ROME – Twice-weekly charter flights of up to 80 people who Italian authorities describe as illegal economic migrants resumed this week from Italy to Tunisia. The flights, part of an Italian-Tunisian agreement, were put on hold during Italy’s COVID-19 lockdown. Italy saw a sharp increase in migration last month that has put a strain on migrant reception centers, particularly in the south of the country.
The growing number of illegal immigrants arriving from North Africa concern the Italian authorities, who have had a number of recent meetings with their Tunisian counterparts to address the issue.
At the end of July, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said that unless Tunisia took significant measures to rein in the departures, Italy would suspend 6.6 million euro in cooperation funds for Tunisias development.
After a spike in Tunisian arrivals, Italys Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese flew to Tunis at the end of last month.
She said that in July, the number of illegal Tunisian migrants reaching Italy increased significantly due to the countrys serious economic crisis. These, she added, are economic migrants who have no right to remain in Italy.