10 Apr 2011

Joint patrols by Italy and France against migrants

6:43 am on 10 April 2011

Italy and France are to carry out joint patrols off the coast of Tunisia to try to stem a growing wave of migrants fleeing the turmoil in North Africa.

The agreement is a conciliatory step between the two countries, which have disagreed over how to deal with thousands of Tunisian migrants who have landed on the Italian island of Lampedusa, many hoping to proceed to France.

Italy has promised to grant the migrants temporary residence permits that would allow them to travel freely into France and other European countries that apply the Shengen agreement on freedom of movement.

France has been pushing back migrants trying to cross the border from Italy.

Interior Minister Claude Gueant said on Friday that only migrants with sufficient economic means and valid identification papers would be allowed to remain on French soil.