Tunisia - France - Italy

France to accept few Tunisian migrants

Reuters/Zoubeir Souissi

France will accept Tunisian migrants who have fled to Italy only in a few “marginal cases”, French European affairs minister said Tuesday. Meanwhile, the mayor of Paris has announced that he will make a trip to Tunisia at the end of the week.

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“France’s position is not to reward illegal immigration,” said Laurent Wauquiez. “The interior ministry will examine on a case-by-case basis those who qualify for the right to immigration. Those cases can only be very marginal.”

French Industry Minister Eric Besson said Monday that France would not tolerate any illegal immigration from Tunisia.

Italy asked the European Commission for 100 million euros on Monday in aid to help with 5,000 arrivals from Tunisia on the island of Lampedusa.

Bertrand Delanoë will be in Tunisia from Friday until Monday at the invitation of the Tunisian Human Rights League and the Association of Democratic Tunisian Women, his office announced Tuesday.

He will meet several figures in Tunisia’s transitional government to “demonstrate Paris’s support for the Tunisian people”, his office said.

The Paris city council voted unanimously on 8 February to name a place in Paris after Mohamed Bouazizi, the man whose self-immolation on 17 December prompted the Tunisian revolution

Separately, Tunisia’s coast guard has been accused of deliberately ramming a boat carrying 120 asylum seekers. Eight people who were trying to get to Italy made the accusation late on Monday.

Eleven families told the AFP news agency they had lost relatives and would take legal action. Survivors said 85 people survived, five died and 30 were still missing after the Liberté 302 coast guard vessel rammed their boat.

“We heard the guards saying ‘lower your heads’, and then they rammed us and broke the boat in tow,” survivor Ben Abdaalah told AFP.

Tunisia stepped up naval patrols on Tuesday to try to prevent its nationals fleeing economic and political uncertainty and heading for Europe.

Tunisia ordered an end to a nationwide curfew on Tuesday, but extended the state of emergency.

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