Ivory Coast denies its nationals are pouring into Italy

AFP , Tuesday 3 Oct 2023

The Ivorian government has denied claims by international organisations that its nationals make up a large proportion of recent illegal arrivals in Italy.

sub-Saharan Africa
In this file photo taken by a 29-year-old migrant from the Ivory Coast, a group of sub-Saharan Africans is seen stranded on a beach allegedly at the Tunisian-Libyan border on Thursday 6 July 2023. AP


According to the European coastguard and border guard agency Frontex, out of the thousands of migrants who have arrived in Italy this year two-thirds have been from Africa.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says that Ivorians are the second most common nationality among the sub-Saharan nationals who have arrived in Italy since January.

Ivorian Interior Minister Vagondo Diomande dismissed those comments as false, in a statement seen by AFP on Tuesday.

"These serious accusations made against our country are based solely on the declarations of illegal immigrants recorded by the Italian immigration services," said the minister.

"No verification has been carried out with the assistance of the relevant services in Ivory Coast to ascertain the reality of the Ivorian nationality of these migrants," he added, denying "allegations based on mere presumptions".

According to the interior minister, several identification missions carried out between 2009 and 2018 in several European countries had shown that less than 15 percent of migrants presumed to be Ivorian actually had Ivorian nationality.

Irregular arrivals of migrants in Italy via the Mediterranean from North Africa totalled almost 114,300 between January and August, almost twice as many as in the same period in 2022, according to Frontex.

Tunisia and Libya are the starting points for thousands of migrants crossing the central Mediterranean to Italy.

Last week, the Ivorian government announced the launch of procedures for the introduction of a visa with Tunisia.

*This story was edited by Ahram Online

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