Most Tunisian Migrants Given Citizenship in Safe Italy Use EU Free Movement to Move to France

Some of the 67 migrants rescued by members of French NGO SOS Mediterranee boat Ocean Viking off the coast of Lampedusa island react, on June 25, 2020. - Dozens of migrants drifting in the Mediterranean on a blue wooden boat were rescued on June 25, 2020 by activists on a …
SHAHZAD ABDUL/AFP via Getty Images

Over half of the Tunisian migrants who claimed Italian citizenship between 2012 to 2017, 56 per cent, used EU Free Movement rules to move to France.

Statistics also reveal that of the Tunisians granted asylum in 2011, just 10 per cent remained in Italy by 2018, the lowest level of any nationality.

In recent months, Italy has seen a new surge of mass migration, primarily from Tunisia via the Italian island of Lampedusa. Many of them have made the trip north to the town of Ventimiglia, which lies on the border with France, after arriving.

Delia Bonuomo, a Ventimiglia bar owner, told French newspaper Le Figaro that many come directly from Lampedusa and do not bother trying to stay in Italy at all.

“They do not have the marks of suffering like Africans from southern Sahara, who have thousands of kilometres of wear in their legs and have sometimes experienced tragedies. They want to join cousins in France,” Ms Bonuomo said.

The bar owner said that she offers them limited help, such as letting them charge up their phones, “but they can’t ask me to take them to France,” she said.

“Among them are rude people and thugs who even steal from each other. Some think that women like me should lower my eyes before them,” she added.

Bonuomo said that people-smugglers charge the migrants up to €500 to get across the French border, but that they are often pushed back by French police.

“Some people try three, four, seven, up to ten times to get to France. They can take a month or two, but they always end up getting there,” she said.

Adel Chehida, chairman of the Association of Tunisians in Italy, told the newspaper that many young Tunisians leave the country because of the lack of job prospects.

Tunisian migration into France came under scrutiny last month after it was revealed that the radical Islamic terrorist  who killed three people in a church in Nice was Tunisian and had arrived in Lampedusa illegally earlier in the year.

Italian populist Senator Matteo Salvini called on Italy’s Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese to resign over the affair and questioned how many more radical Islamists had come through the country illegally.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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