Giorgia Meloni, the prime minister of Italy, will visit Tunisia on Tuesday in an effort to advance the unblocking of loans from the International Monetary Fund, IMF, for the country in North Africa, according to two diplomatic sources.
Italy is worried that without the money, Tunisia will experience a severe financial crisis that could lead to a new influx of migrants seeking a better life in Europe. to Italy specifically.
In an effort to quickly improve Tunisia’s economic predicament, a government source in Rome claimed that Italy wants to begin unblocking some of the international finance in exchange for significant reforms.
As a result of Tunisian President Kais Saied rejecting major elements of the proposed contract, negotiations between Tunisia and the IMF for a $1.9 billion loan have been in a standstill for months.
Saied ordered the expulsion of all illegal immigrants in February while decrying a plot to alter Tunisia’s demographics by making it more African and less Arab.
The subsequent crackdown encouraged an increase in migrant departures for Italy. According to the most recent United Nations figures, 26,555 of the 51,215 boat migrants who had arrived in Italy by the first week of June this year had left Tunisia, compared to 3,658 during the same period in 2022.
Giorgia Meloni, who assumed office in October of last year, has already traveled to Algeria and Libya, Tunisia’s two neighbors.
Her right-wing coalition pledged to crack down on boat migration, but this year’s increase in new arrivals has put the government on the back foot.