The Tunisian navy on Monday rescued more than 100 migrants who were trying to reach Italy illegally from Libya, and were in difficulty off the island of Djerba, said the defense ministry. The navy identified a boat “on the verge of sinking” about 40 km off the coast of southern Tunisia, the ministry said in a statement.
In particular, it was carrying 46 passengers from Bangladesh, 29 Sudanese, 22 Eritreans, 11 Egyptians, aged 15 to 38. The passengers, who said they left the Libyan port of Zouara on Sunday evening, were brought ashore less than 150 km away, across the border, at the port of Zarzis in southern Tunisia.
Two survivors found this Thursday
Tunisia regularly helps migrants who left neighboring Libya who were shipwrecked in the central Mediterranean, one of the deadliest migration routes according to the United Nations. A boat also left Zouara was found this Thursday with two Nigerian survivors, according to whom the 17 other passengers were missing, probably drowned, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
The illegal departures of Tunisians and nationals of sub-Saharan Africa from Tunisia have reached an unprecedented peak since 2011. The country is mired in political power struggles and economic difficulties accentuated by the pandemic.
Tuesday in Lisbon, the Tunisian head of government Hichem Mechichi reiterated his country’s opposition to the establishment on its territory of reception centers for migrants seeking to join Europe, as there are in several other countries third. Italian Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese is expected in Tunis on May 20 with European Commissioner Ylva Johansson to discuss aid and repatriation.