A boat carrying Tunisian migrants enters the port of Lampedusa after being rescued. |PHOTO: ARCHIVE/ANSA/ETTORE FERRARI
A boat carrying Tunisian migrants enters the port of Lampedusa after being rescued. |PHOTO: ARCHIVE/ANSA/ETTORE FERRARI

The situation remains stalled for 75 migrants aboard a tugboat off the Tunisian coast of Zarzis, while the vessel waits for authorization to enter the port. The Bangladeshi ambassador to Libya is reportedly working to convince 64 Bangladeshis to accept voluntary repatriation.

 A solution may be close at hand for the situation of 75 migrants aboard the tugboat Maridive 601, which rescued them off the coast of Libya. The vessel has been stopped off the Tunisian coast of Zarzis for 17 days awaiting authorization to enter the port. 

Working for a solution

The Bangladeshi ambassador to Libya, Sekander Ali, went aboard the boat on Saturday and is reportedly working to convince 64 Bangladeshis - 32 of whom are unaccompanied minors - to accept voluntary repatriation. Nine Egyptians, a Moroccan and a Sudanese have already accepted voluntary repatriation. Mustapha Abdelkebir, president of the Tunisian Observatory for Human Rights, told the Tunisian news agency TAP that the Bangladeshi migrants have already accepted the offer. 

He said the Bangladeshi ambassador's second visit to the region shows the importance given to the problem of the migrants and the willingness on both sides to assume their responsibilities and carry out their roles in a joint effort. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) says the situation is delicate for the children aboard in particular, because a solution requires numerous additional bureaucratic steps with all the authorities concerned.

Abdelkebir said finding a place for "these migrants or other people who disembark or arrive in Tunisia in an attempt to migrate irregularly from Libya to Europe remains very difficult." He added that Tunisia has been hosting "hundreds of migrants and refugees since 2011." 
 

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