Tunisia: UK-Italy Repatriation Funding Won’t Address Most Migration Cases

by | Dec 16, 2023 | Diplomacy, Security, Tunisia


On 16 December 2023, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni announced from Rome plans to jointly fund the repatriation of migrants currently stranded in Tunisia.

The plan would include joint UK-Italian funding for an International Organization for Migration (IOM) program that would facilitate the return of migrants stranded in Tunisia to their home countries.

The two leaders also met jointly with the Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama to discuss solutions to address migration routes that traverse the Balkan states.

The announcement comes as both Sunak and Meloni face growing domestic criticism over both the influx of irregular migrants and their handling of efforts to address the issue.


The announcement comes as both Sunak and Meloni have faced growing criticism from many sides about their failure to address irregular migration and to address it in a way that satisfies their constituents.

Funding for the IOM program is potentially as much a symbolic political victory as it is an effective mechanism to address migration. While some migrants arrive in Tunisia and register with IOM, the vast majority do not, either lacking the awareness, documentation, or time to endure the process of formal registration for status with the UN.

Recent efforts to implement a large-scale security assistance program by the EU showed the limitations of externally formulated programs being put into practice on the ground. Tunisian leaders notably pushed back against the EU program which they viewed as lacking respect for Tunisian sovereignty.

The funding of the IOM program is a distinct approach from the EU’s security assistance plan, however, it holds the potential for similar diplomatic frictions as European countries seeks to implement on policies across North Africa that address irregular migration nearer to its sources


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