Belgium continues to back Tunisia-EU migration deal
Belgium continues to support the EU-Tunisia migration deal struck this month, the state secretary for Migration said on Friday. The recent discovery of bodies of migrants who died near the Tunisia border after being pushed back has increased pressure to denounce the contentious deal.
"Unacceptable that migrants are being left in the desert. EU must make this clear to Tunisia," Belgian state secretary for Asylum and Migration Nicole de Moor tweeted on Friday.
In the same tweet, she made clear that she continued to support cooperation on migration between the EU and Tunisia. "No alternative but cooperation to manage migration," she wrote. "Can't afford to let go of countries where people get on boats. That would certainly not improve situation."
De Moor continues to support the contentious migration agreement reached between the EU and Tunisia this month, she told De Standaard on Friday. Under the deal, Tunisia will improve border security and crack down on human trafficking in return for EU investment to boost its economy.
The agreement still has to be approved by EU member states. While the deal has been criticised from the outset over Tunisia's human rights record and treatment of migrants, recent reports have increased pressure on member states to reconsider their position.
On Tuesday, Libyan border guards discovered the bodies of five people in the desert in an area bordering Tunisia. Earlier this month, Libyan border guards rescued dozens of migrants from the desert who had allegedly been left there by Tunisian authorities without water or shelter in temperatures exceeding 50° Celsius.
Migrants from sub-Saharan African countries who claim to have been abandoned in the desert by Tunisian authorities without water or shelter sit in an uninhabited area near Libya's border town of Al-Assah on July 16, 2023 © MAHMUD TURKIA / AFP