World Twenty-eight migrants intercepted in the Mediterranean, off the coast...

Twenty-eight migrants intercepted in the Mediterranean, off the coast of Tunisia

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648x415 bateau migrants secouru police espagnole 2018

A migrant boat rescued by the Spanish police in 2018 (illustration) – Marcos Moreno / AFP

The Tunisian Maritime National Guard rescued 28 migrants, including seven women and a baby, off the Kerkennah archipelago (center-east) on Saturday, trying to reach Europe from Tunisia aboard a makeshift boat . Departing overnight from Thursday to Friday from the coasts of Sidi Mansour in Sfax (center-east), these migrants, 25 of whom are from sub-Saharan Africa and three are Tunisians, were intercepted after their boat broke down, added the Ministry of Defense in a press release.

The migrants, who are between nine months and 33 years old, were handed over to National Guard units at the port of Sfax, the ministry added without giving further details. Despite the health crisis linked to the new coronavirus pandemic, clandestine emigrations from Tunisia to Europe continue, in particular to the Italian coasts where migrants hope to find work and prospects.

More than 8,000 people intercepted

After a peak in departures from Tunisia in 2011, followed by a sharp drop, the number of departures has increased again since 2017 as Tunisia faces rising unemployment and deep inequalities persist, ten years after the revolution. Since the start of 2020 and until mid-September, 8,581 people have been intercepted while trying to reach Europe by sea from the Tunisian coast, according to statistics from the Ministry of the Interior. Of these, 2,104 were foreigners.

The migration file is one of the sensitive subjects discussed between European and Tunisian officials. During an August visit to Tunis, Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio warned that there would be no more room for migrants who arrived illegally in Italy, after announcing repatriation operations for Tunisians in from August 10.

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