Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said Tunisia cannot be considered a place of safety for migrants and refugees because the country has no functioning asylum system. Meanwhile, a ship with 75 rescued migrants on board is still waiting for permission to dock in Zarzis, Tunisia.
Doctors Without Borders (MSF) wrote on its Twitter account Monday that "Tunisia has no functioning asylum system in place and thus cannot be defined as a place of safety for migrants and refugees. The nearest places of safety for rescues in the Central Mediterranean are Italy or Malta."
The tweet was in reference to Tunisian authorities' refusal to allow the Maridive 601 vessel to enter the port of Zarzis with 75 migrants aboard. The migrants were rescued last Friday after a shipwreck in the Mediterranean.
The case of the Maridive 601
MSF tweeted that the ship's crew had notified authorities in Italy and Malta before heading to the Tunisian port of Zarzis. The ship's captain reportedly said the situation was critical with 100 people on board and only one to two days worth of water and food supplies.
"I request that the Tunisian authorities allow us to make an emergency entry to Zarzis port", Faouz Samir, captain of the Maridive 601, told news agency AFP on Monday. "The migrants' state of health is bad - many are suffering from scabies."
There are five critical health situations on board, according to the NGO Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights (FTDES).
Tunisia thwarted departure towards Italy
Meanwhile, the Tunisian National Guard arrested five people between the ages of 24 and 46 in Melloulèche, a small town on the coast in central Tunisia. The suspects are accused of attempting to emigrate to Italy illegally, the Tunisian Interior Ministry said in a statement.
Authorities seized 1,275 Tunisian dinars, 633 euros, five
laptop computers, and a vehicle used for the group's transport. The public
prosecutor confirmed the arrests. He said that a criminal investigation has been opened
on the five suspects.