Migration: Italy Mulls Investing at Least €1 Bln in North Africa

Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has unveiled lately an ambitious plan worth at least 1 billion Euros destined to support the economies of North African countries, help create job opportunities in this region and curb migration flows.

In a statement to Sky TG24, Mr. Salvini said these investments would focus on agriculture, fishing and trade. “It is not enough to close [ports] and send [migrants] back home,” underlined the Italian interior minister, explaining is that the move is part of a wider plan to tackle a number of security issues including the mafia, drug trafficking, terrorism and immigration.

Italy should become “a main actor” on migration policy in Europe, Salvini added, saying that he would “soon” travel to Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria.

The new Italian government has closed its ports to charity ships operating in the Mediterranean, saying the European Union must share the burden of hosting hundreds of migrants.

In July, the European Commission approved three new migration-related programs in Morocco, Tunisia and Libya totaling €90.5 million.

The new programs, endorsed under the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, will provide support to North African countries to improve their ability to manage better their borders, ensure protection and emergency assistance for vulnerable migrants.

Through the program on border Management for the Maghreb region worth €55 million, the EU will support efforts of national institutions in Morocco and Tunisia to save lives at sea, improve maritime border management and fight smugglers operating in the region.

This program, implemented by the Italian Ministry of Interior, together with the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD), will focus on capacity building and providing and maintaining equipment.

For his part, EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker has promised lately € 55 million assistance to help Morocco and Spain tackle the rise of illegal migration in the Western Mediterranean.

The EU is considering the idea of setting up migrant processing centers in North African countries which refuse categorically such as a plan saying it will neither work nor solve the issue of illegal migration.

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