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Tunisia coastguard recovers dozens of bodies after migrant vessels capsize

Tunisia’s coastguard has announced that it had recovered the bodies of at least 29 migrants and asylum seekers from sub-Saharan African countries after three vessels capsized.

It also rescued 11 irregular migrants of “various African nationalities” after their boats sank off the central eastern coast, it said in a statement, citing three separate incidents.

Separately, in the last four days, five migrant boats have
sunk off the coast of the southern city of Sfax, leaving 67
missing and nine dead, after a significant increase in boats
heading towards Italy.

Tunisia has taken over from Libya as a main departure point
for people fleeing poverty and conflict in Africa and the Middle
East in the hope of a better life in Europe.

Houssem Jebabli, a senior official in the national guard
told Reuters news agency that the Tunisian coast guard had rescued 11
people off the coast of Mahdia, further north.

The coast guard said it had stopped about 80 boats heading
for Italy in the past four days and detained more than 3,000 irregular migrants, mostly from sub-Saharan African countries.

The latest loss of life comes in the midst of a campaign of
arrests by the Tunisian authorities of undocumented sub-Saharan

According to UN data, at least 12,000 migrants who reached
Italy this year set sail from Tunisia, compared with 1,300 in
the same period of 2022.

According to statistics from the Tunisian Forum for Social
and Economic Rights, Tunisia’s coast guard prevented more than
14,000 migrants from setting off in boats during the first three
months of this year, compared with 2,900 during the same period
last year.

The Italian coast guard said on Thursday it had rescued
about 750 migrants in two operations off the southern Italian

Europe risks seeing a huge wave of migrants arriving on its
shores from North Africa if financial stability in Tunisia is
not safeguarded, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said on

Meloni called on the International Monetary Fund and some countries to help
Tunisia quickly to avoid its collapse.

READ MORE: “Britain to present new legislation to curb migrant boat arrivals”

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