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EU to aid Italy & Tunisian migrants

02-16-2011 07:44 BJT

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The European Union plans to offer Italy financial assistance and other help, to stem the tide of immigrants trying to reach continental shores, and aid those who have already arrived. Officials in Rome previously expressed concerns about an expanding influx.

The European Union estimates that 55-hundred Tunisians have reached Italy in recent weeks. The Home Affairs Authority says the new arrivals are placing exceptional pressure on the country's reception facilities.

Cecilia Malmstrom, EU Home Affairs Commissioner, said, "We are ready to assist both Italy and Tunisia. This is a matter of importance for the whole EU, not just a bilateral issue. Financially, we are ready to mobilize an extraordinary assistance under the refugee fund for 2011, in addition to the funding already earmarked for Italy. This should cover for payments, for instance, for accommodation, for infrastructure, material aid, medical care, social assistance, counseling with judicial administrative asylum procedures, legal aid, and language assistance."

The recent protests in Tunisia have resulted in many fleeing that nation. Most of them have landed on Italy's tiny island of Lampedusa.

Italy's Interior Minister says the current immigration wave is not controlled by criminal organizations at this point. But the unprecedented influx poses a threat not only to his country, but to the entire European continent. He warns that such a rush could provide an opportunity for terrorist infiltration.

Roberto Maroni, Italian Interior Minister, said, "This is a question that involves all political institutions in this region, in great fermentation, and only Europe, on a political level, can be the necessary intermediary in these situations."

On Monday, the EU announced a 350 million US dollar aid package to Tunisia, which will extend through 2013. More than 22 million dollars are deliverable immediately.

Italian authorities also intercepted a boatload of 32 people believed to be from Egypt on Tuesday. The Interior Minister says he hopes the incident is just an isolated case.

The European Union plans to offer Italy financial assistance and other
help, to stem the tide of immigrants trying to reach continental shores,
and aid those who have already arrived.



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