Two migrant boats overturned in the space of a few hours on Saturday off the coast of Tunisia. At least 13 bodies have been recovered -- among them six children and six women. About a dozen are still reported missing.
The boats had reportedly set off from Tunisia and were headed for Italy. Tunisian authorities recovered the bodies of 13 migrants on Saturday, April 9, according to news agency Agence France Presse (AFP).
Six children and six women are reported to be among the dead; all were of sub-Saharan African origin. According to a spokesperson for a Tunisian court in Sfax, the migrants had set off in two different boats. Rescuers pulled 37 survivors from the water, reported AFP, but "dozens more" were unaccounted for.
According to tweets from the Mediterranean monitoring organization Alarm Phone, posted on Sunday, "only 19 people survived" one of the shipwrecks. From this boat, "four bodies were recovered and ten people are still missing."
On Saturday, Alarm Phone posted about a boat thought to have been carrying around 30 people. "It capsized off Tunisia," wrote the organization. From this boat, 20 people are thought to have been rescued and six were still missing when Alarm Phone tweeted the information. Four bodies were recovered from this boat.
Earlier that day, Alarm Phone had said they were in contact with a boat carrying the same number of people on board and that they were in "distress north of Kerkennah." Their engine had broken, reported Alarm Phone and "the group cannot move on." The organization posted their satellite position and said that they had alerted the authorities but the people on the boat had reported that there "is no rescue in sight yet."
A little later on April 9, Alarm Phone tweeted that the people had been "intercepted by the Tunisian Guarde Nationale and are being brought to Tunisia now."
Just a week previously, about 90 people lost their lives not too far from the site of these shipwrecks, when their boat overturned off the Libyan coast. In that case, the migrants had been at sea reportedly for about four days when their overcrowded boat overturned. Just four people survived that shipwreck, reported the Italian online portal Fanpage.it. The four survivors were picked up by an oil tanker Alegria 1.
Since the beginning of the year, according to the UN Migration Agency's Missing Migrants project, 417 migrants have been recorded missing or dead on the Central Mediterranean route. Since 2014, this number just for the Central Mediterranean rises to 19,247. Some other NGOs, like Caminando Fronteras, believe the actual numbers are much higher since departures and numbers on board are not officially registered and so the count is subject to finding bodies or survivors' testimony.
The latest figures from the Italian Interior Ministry, showing arrivals of migrants in Italy were published on April 8. They show that 6,938 migrants have arrived in Italy by boat since the beginning of the year. In the same period last year, that figure stood slightly higher at 8,505.
According to Italian statistics, the majority of those arriving in Italy by boat come from Egypt, with Bangladeshis accounting for the second greatest numbers. Tunisians are third this year, with 914 Tunisian arrivals registered. However, many of those coming from sub-Saharan African countries use Tunisia as a jumping off point in the hope of making it to Italy. 889 of those arrivals are unaccompanied minors.
With AFP and Reuters