Migrants arriving in a port of Lampedusa | Photo: REUTERS
Migrants arriving in a port of Lampedusa | Photo: REUTERS

The Italian government announced Tuesday that repatriation flights for Tunisian migrants will resume regularly on August 10 on the basis of an agreement in force with the government of their country of origin. Two flights carrying a maximum of 40 people each will be conducted every week.

In an attempt to deal with a large number of migrants landing on Italian shores in recent weeks, the interior ministry said Tuesday that the repatriation of Tunisian migrants who land in Italy will resume on August 10. These repatriations had stopped during the coronavirus lockdown.

The ministry said that, under the terms of an agreement with Tunis, two flights carrying a maximum of 40 returning Tunisians each can run for the repatriations every week.

Italy has seen a significant rise in the arrival of migrants from North Africa in recent weeks, putting immense strain on its reception facilities. 

Flights on a regular basis again 

Some charter flights had already been conducted in recent weeks, when the flow of migrants from Tunisia had surged with dozens of landings every day on the island of Lampedusa. 

Since July 16, there have been five flights that repatriated a total of 95 Tunisians. The Tunisian government asked that not more than 20 Tunisian nationals be repatriated on each flight.

Starting on August 10, instead, the original terms of the agreement will once again be used. From June 1 to August 3, the interior ministry said, 266 people had been repatriated from Italy: 116 to Tunisia and 103 to Albania. 

EU intends to strengthen partnership with Tunisia 

As one of the key priorities in the new Pact on Migration and Asylum, EU Commissioner Ylva Johansson intends to strengthen efforts with all the partners that took part in a conference against migrant trafficking on July 13: Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, Mauritania and Morocco.

After the summer, the commissioner will be meeting with the governments or ministers of these countries to achieve a strengthened partnership on migration management.

The European Commission has also said that the EU list of safe third countries for migration repatriation, requested on Monday by Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, is an an option that ''will certainly be assessed'' as part of the new Pact on Asylum.

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