Tunisian coast guard boat in the Mediterranean Sea off Isle of Djerba | Photo: Natalia Seliverstova/dpa/picture-alliance
Tunisian coast guard boat in the Mediterranean Sea off Isle of Djerba | Photo: Natalia Seliverstova/dpa/picture-alliance

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) fears that more than 30 migrants have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Tunisia. So far, only six bodies have been recovered.

More than 30 migrants were missing and are now presumed dead after a boat capsized on Thursday, the IOM tweeted. 

A total of 34 survivors, who were rescued by Tunisian authorities, reported that the boat had left from neighboring Libya with about 70 people on board. The TAP news agency reported that the boat sunk about 44 kilometers off the Tunisian coastal town of Zarzis.

Similar incidents have once again been on the rise along Africa's northern coast lately.

Read more: Eleven migrants die in Tunisia shipwreck

The Tunisian Defense Ministry said that it has been busier than usual trying to intercept irregular migrants at sea; Tunisian authorities reportedly thwarted eight boat migration trips in 48 hours off the coast of the city of Sfax. During those operations, 130 people were taken into detention.

Meanwhile, Libya's coast guard also continues to intercept migrant boats, returning people back to Libya, where often they have to face the most undignified living conditions.

Libya still most dangerous place for migrants

The main transit route for migrants seeking to cross the Mediterranean from Africa to the EU runs via Libya and is considered to be the busiest and deadliest migration route to Europe. However, the political situation in the country remains highly unstable since the 2011 ouster of longterm autocrat Moammar Gaddhafi and the ensuing state of civil war in certain parts of the country.

Migrants and refugees often get stuck in Libya, abandoned by smugglers and left to be abused, tortured, raped, held for ransom or murdered by criminal gangs.

Despite these dangers, the UN says that last year, the number of migrants trying to journey across the Mediterranean from Libya to Europe had tripled compared to 2020.

About 60,000 people traveling from Libya arrived in Italy by sea in 2021; meanwhile the same year, up to 1,300 people are believed died during perilous journeys to Italy or Malta using vessels that are often overloaded and unseaworthy.

Read more: Migrants find themselves 'trapped' in Tunisia, a country that can offer them nothing

with dpa, AP


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