At least 29 migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa died when their two boats capsized off the Tunisian shore as they attempted to cross the Mediterranean to Italy. This is according to the Tunisian coast guard.
Separately, five migrant boats have sunk in the past four days off the coast of the southern city of Sfax, leaving 67 people missing and nine people dead. This comes after a substantial rise in the number of boats travelling towards Italy.
People fleeing poverty and war in Africa and the Middle East in search of a better life in Europe now primarily leave from Tunisia rather than Libya.
Senior national guard official Houssem Jebabli said that 11 persons had also been saved by the Tunisian coast guard off the coast of Mahdia, further north.
In the last four days, the coast guard claimed to have halted about 80 boats headed for Italy and detained more than 3,000 migrants, the majority of whom were from sub-Saharan African nations.
The most recent death occurs in the midst of a campaign of undocumented sub-Saharan Africans being detained by Tunisian officials.
United Nations statistics show that this year, at least 12, 000 migrants arrived in Italy from Tunisia, compared to 1, 300 during the same time frame in 2022.
Statistics from the Tunisian Forum for Social and Economic Rights show that more than 14, 000 migrants from leaving Tunisia in boats during the first three months of this year were stopped by the coast guard, as opposed to 2, 900 during the same time last year.
On Thursday, the Italian coast guard reported that in two operations off the southern Italian shore, it had saved about 750 migrants.
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni had earlier warned that if Tunisia’s financial stability is not preserved, Europe runs the danger of having a massive influx of migrants from North Africa. Meloni urged the IMF and a few nations to assist Tunisia right away in order to prevent its collapse.
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