Many migrants die in the desert | PHOTO: picture-alliance/AP Photo/J. Delay
Many migrants die in the desert | PHOTO: picture-alliance/AP Photo/J. Delay

Two women and four children were found dead in the Tunisian desert, confirmed an official on Thursday. It is presumed they "died of thirst."

The bodies of six migrants, two women and four children from Niger, were found in the south-western Tunisian Sahara desert, confirmed a Tunisian official on Thursday (August 12), to the news agency Agence France Presse (AFP.)

Their bodies were found on Wednesday night, just two kilometers from the Algerian border, near the Tunisian town of Tozeur. The Italian news agency ANSA reported that their bodies were found by border guards patrolling the area.

One migrant from the group survived because he or she went to find water but got lost along the way and didn't make it back to the group.

'Died of thirst'

The migrants are presumed to have "died of thirst," said the Tunisian official, speaking on condition of anonymity. As unrest has grown in Libya, Tunisia has increasingly become another transit country for sub-Saharan African migrants who hope to reach the Mediterranean coast before boarding a boat to Europe.

In June 2021, the most recent figures, the UN refugee agency UNHCR, registered over 8,000 migrants in Tunisia. The majority of those in the country are between 18 and 59 years of age, with children under four being the second most populous group.

The vast majority of migrants who were registered by the UNHCR in Tunisia this year come originally from Ivory Coast, the second most populous group come from Syria, and then people from Guinea, Sudan and Cameroon make up the third group of people.

Tunisia is also facing political, social and economic difficulties and more and more migrants (both Tunisian and sub-Saharan African) are setting sail from Tunisia towards Italy and the islands of Lampedusa and Sicily. In fact, the majority of migrants arriving in Lampedusa come originally from Tunisia.

Heatwave

Like many of the countries around the Mediterranean, Algeria has been suffering in the current heatwave, where numerous fires have broken out. At least 69 people are thought to have died there last week from fire.

According to the Naples based Italian online site Fanpage.it, Tunisia too has seen "record temperatures" this summer, reaching heights even for a semi-arid region "not seen for decades." Fanpage.it reported that temperatures in some cases almost reached 50 Celsius.

Even when migrants do manage to make it across the desert, the dangers do not stop there. Earlier this week, reported the Tunisian navy, 29 people lost their lives in a boat which sunk off the coast of Tunisia. Among those who died were both Tunisians and sub-Saharan Africans. So far this year, more than 1,000 people have lost their lives attempting to cross the Mediterranean, according to UN migration agency's Missing Migrants Project.

With AFP, ANSA, Fanpage.it

 

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