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EU reveals total aid to North Africa to combat migration 

Migrants attempting to reach Italy from Tunisia. About 270,000 so-called irregular migrants arrived in the EU via sea crossings last year Jihed Abidellaoui/Reuters
Migrants attempting to reach Italy from Tunisia. About 270,000 so-called irregular migrants arrived in the EU via sea crossings last year
  • $718m sent from EU to North Africa
  • Eastern Med crossings up 113%
  • Morocco received most

The European Union provided €673 million ($718 million) in funding to four North African countries from 2021-23 to help the quartet reduce what it calls irregular migration to the 27-member bloc, official data shows.

Last year about 270,000 “irregular migrants” arrived in the EU via sea crossings, 64 percent more than in 2022.

Crossings from the central and eastern Mediterranean represented a combined 55 percent of the total, and were up 56 and 113 percent respectively year on year, according to Frontex, the EU’s border and coastguard agency.

The influx of such migrants, who do not enter the EU through official border controls, has prompted European politicians to act.

From 2021-23, the European Union gave Tunisia €175 million, Egypt €180 million, Libya €125 million and Morocco €193 million, a spokesperson told AGBI, explaining this was to fund the “protection of vulnerable refugees and migrants, return and reintegration, border management and anti-smuggling”.

In July the European Council, whose members include the heads of state of the bloc’s 27 countries, signed a memorandum of understanding with Tunisia that spanned issues including migration, according to an official document obtained and published by Statewatch.

This will include cooperation on “entry controls, border management, legal migration, returns and reintegration from Tunisia, returns from the EU … and anti-smuggling”, the document states.

The EU also signed a “border management project” with Egypt in October 2022 that included an €80 million first phase, according to Reuters.  

Under the second phase of the plan, Egypt will receive €87 million. In the previous phase the EU approved a tender to supply three search-and-rescue boats, the document shows.

“The EU will continue to support Egypt’s efforts to prevent and combat irregular migration, to strengthen border management as well as to combat trafficking and smuggling of human beings, including identifying and assisting victims of trafficking,” an EU document from June 2022 states.

In June 2023 the EU announced it would give Egypt an additional €80 million for “border management, search and rescue and anti-smuggling operations”.

Such grants are only a small part of overall EU support to North Africa. From 2007 to March 31, 2024, inclusive, the European Union gave €16.4 billion to Morocco, €10.3 billion to Tunisia, €9.5 billion to Egypt, €3.1 billion to Algeria and €1.7 billion to Libya, official data shows.

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