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European Commission to send Tunisia $135M in aid to stem illegal migrants

The European Union and Tunisia had in July announced a ‘strategic partnership’ to boost Tunisia's economy and combat the spike in small boats leaving the North African nation for Europe.
Migrant men wait to board a ship bound for Sicily from Lampedusa, Italy, April 22, 2015.

The European Commission will send 127 million euros ($135 million) in aid to Tunisia to help the North African country reduce illegal migrant boat crossings to Europe.

The commission said Friday that 60 million euros would be available in budget support for Tunisia and the remaining 67 million will be aimed at strengthening the country’s capacity to stem human traffickers as well as tighten its borders. The package will be disbursed in the coming days.

The commission said the latest funding will go toward refitting search and rescue boats and other equipment for the Tunisian coast guard and navy. It will also help fund the provision of new search and rescue vessels, thermal cameras and training for coast guard staff.

The financial package will also help to protect migrants in Tunisia, in collaboration with the United Nations, and also fund the return of asylum seekers to their country of origin.

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