In Tunisia, a boatload of migrants ran aground in the middle of the Mediterranean last week as they tried to reach the Italian coast. Six lifeless bodies were recovered by the coast guard during the night of 6 to 7 September and six new ones on Monday 12 September. This brings the latest death toll to 12.
In total, 37 people, all of Tunisian nationality had taken place in this boat, left the coast of El Awabed in the southern region of Sfax. These migrants were trying to reach the Italian coast like hundreds of others. Unfortunately, they will not reach their destination because the strong ocean currents sank their boat. The latest death toll in this tragedy is 12, with six more bodies recovered by the coast guard on Monday September 12, off the coast of Mahdiya, a city in the east-central part of the country, according to the authorities.
Significant increase in illegal departures
Despite the great risks involved in crossing the Mediterranean, the numbers of illegal departures to the Italian coast have grown enormously since 2021. This year, 20,018 migrants were prevented from crossing the sea borders, said the spokesman of the National Guard, Houssemeddine Jebabli. These exiles are nationals of sub-Saharan African countries (12,466) and Tunisians (7,552).
“The central Mediterranean route was used by more than 42,500 people in the first six months of 2022, an increase of 44% compared to the same period in 2021,” according to the European agency Frontex.
Several other clandestine attempts to cross the Mediterranean foiled
26 attempts of irregular migration by sea were also foiled by the National Guard in the evening of Saturday, September 10, reported the Tunisian news agency (TAP). 426 exiles were rescued during these operations, including 140 from sub-Saharan Africa and 284 from Tunisia. Twelve boats and sixteen engines were also seized.
Economic crisis, main reason of illegal departures
Samia Abou Slama Létaeif is a member of the steering committee of the Tunisian Forum of Economic and Social Rights (FTDES), an NGO that works in particular on Tunisian illegal migration. According to his explanations, the increase in the number of illegal Tunisian migrants is due to the impoverishment of part of the population.
“People who are at risk of illegal emigration, in particular, see and consider that the risk is less than the bad conditions they live in”.
It should be recalled that towards the end of August, in just a few days, the Tunisian authorities intercepted or rescued more than 500 illegal migrants, during several rescue operations. Three other bodies of people from sub-Saharan Africa were also found near the town of Ras Jedir, near the Libyan border on August 21.