EU to give $348 mn in aid to Tunisia

February 15th, 2011 - 7:38 am ICT by IANS  

Tunis, Feb 15 (IANS) The European Union (EU) will provide 258 million euros (about $348 million) in aid to Tunisia to help various developmental projects in the country. EU’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said that 17 million euros will be granted immediately while the rest of the amount will be provided by 2013, according to Xinhua.

An additional one billion euros will also be mobilised by the European Development Bank (EDB) to help boost small and medium-sized enterprises and infrastructure projects in the country.

Tunisia saw a month-long mass unrest which toppled the 23-year rule of president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali last month.

On the illegal immigration of thousands of Tunisians to Italy, the EU diplomatic chief said that European authorities are in contact with Tunisian and Italian authorities, and that it is important things take place in compliance with the law, to guarantee both the security of the immigrants and the security situation in Italy.

Taking advantage of the absence of security in Tunisian ports due to recent uprising in the north African country, some 4,000 Tunisians recently crossed the Mediterranean Sea to reach the Italian island of Lampedusa.

Italy has declared a humanitarian emergency and offered to send policemen to patrol Tunisian ports.

The move provoked the Tunisian government, which in a statement Monday rejected “all interference in its internal affairs or offence against its sovereignty”, while reiterating its readiness to “discuss the issue with Italian officials in coming days”.

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