The photo shows African immigrants carrying aid boxes distributed at the Raoued town hall in Tunis, Tunisia, 22 April 2020 | Photo: EPA/MOHAMED MESSARA
The photo shows African immigrants carrying aid boxes distributed at the Raoued town hall in Tunis, Tunisia, 22 April 2020 | Photo: EPA/MOHAMED MESSARA

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said Wednesday that 53% of migrants in Tunisia lost their jobs during the lockdown period decreed by the authorities in order to contain the spread of COVID-19. Attempts to leave the country on boats headed for Europe meanwhile continue.

Some 53% of migrants in Tunisia lost their jobs during the lockdown period imposed by the government as part of attempts to contain COVID-19, the Tunis office of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said Wednesday.

The IOM noted that the employment rate for migrants in the country had dropped from 64% to 11% in the period from the date when the general quarantine was imposed, March 22, and May 3. 

Social assistance efforts 

The IOM said that it is working in coordination with the Tunisian authorities and municipalities to provide social and economic assistance to migrants living in Tunisia, underscoring that 39% of migrant workers with children had received aid: 54% of them were women and 46% men, with an estimated average age for beneficiaries of 30. 

The IOM said that, since the beginning of the health crisis, 7,002 migrants from across the entire country had received aid of some sort: food, vouchers, cleaning products, etc. 

Tunisia thwarts two departures, 62 people intercepted 

Meanwhile, migrants continue to attempt to leave the North African country's coast on boats towards Europe despite the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As part of the fight against clandestine migration, the Tunisian Coast Guard intercepted a fishing boat in the Kerkennah islands in the Sfax governorate that was carrying 50 migrants from several Asian and African countries including two women and two children. 

The announcement was made by the Tunisian interior ministry on Wednesday in a statement that noted that all would be charged with a crime. 

The statement also said that another anti-migration operation in El-Dayer in the Sfax governorate had led to the arrest of 12 nationals of several African countries that had been getting ready to leave in boats. 

The prosecutor's office, the statement noted, "has authorized the search and inspection team of the National Guard of Sfax to take legal action against them."
 

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