Tunisia Rescues 163 Migrants Off its Eastern Coast

Naval officers in Tunisia has rescued 163 asylum seekers in a boat off the coast of Sfax city. According to the Tunisia’s official news agency, the asylum seekers included nine women and 16 children. The rescue was part of a joint operation with the Tunisian Coast Guard and 162 of the migrants were Tunisian and one was Moroccan.

Sfax, located on the country’s east coast, is a key departure point for migrants aiming to make their way to Europe.

Tunisian authorities stop illegal migration attempts almost on a daily basis and arrest hundreds of irregular migrants.

For years, Maghreb countries such as Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, Mauritania and Morocco have witnessed attempts by migrants mainly from Sub-Saharan Africa to reach Europe, hoping for a better life. While some of them manage to reach their destination, others often die during the journey.

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The Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights says that over the first three quarters of last year, the coastguard intercepted 19,500 migrants during crossing attempts.

The United Nations’ refugee agency said at least 1,300 disappeared or drowned over the same period.

In neighbouring Libya, the situation is just as challenging. Over 30,000 were returned to Libya in 2021 where they face detention in centres run by quasi-militants where reports of sexual violence and torture are rife.

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