In the last few days, Tunisian authorities have recovered the bodies of at least 16 migrants. On Monday, the coast guard said it had retrieved the bodies of four migrants.
The bodies of four migrants were recovered by the Tunisian coast guard after their boat sank off the coast of Sfax in Tunisia, a coast guard official told news agency Reuters on Monday (June 20).
It is not yet clear whether the boat carrying these four migrants was the one tweeted about by the organization Alarm Phone on Monday. According to Alarm Phone, a boat they believed had set off on Sunday night had gone missing in between Sfax and Lampedusa. It was also not reported how many people may have been traveling on board this boat.
12 decomposing bodies recovered from sea
Over the weekend, Tunisian authorities also recovered 12 bodies from the sea. The bodies were already in a decomposed state, said the security official who spoke to Reuters. These bodies were recovered near the port town of Skhira, which is south of Sfax in east-central Tunisia.
The bodies, reported Tunisian local press, were not far from the beach at Skhira. The authorities said that the bodies found were most probably sub-Saharan Africans who presumably had tried to reach Italy from the Libyan coast.
Some fear that more bodies will soon wash up, after at least one migrant boat is believed to have sunk in the area recently.
As the weather conditions have improved in the Mediterranean, and the sea is several degrees warmer than is usual at this time of year, more and more boats have begun to depart. But many of these boats are unsuitable to cover the distance needed to reach Italy or Malta.
Towards the end of May (on May 20) the Tunisian authorities reported that at least three people had lost their lives and around ten people were missing not far from their coast. A few days later, the bodies of 24 drowned migrants were discovered off the coast of Sfax.
It is believed that the boats those migrants had been sailing on had set off between April 22 and 30 in four separate boats. 97 people on board these dinghies were saved. The Tunisian navy often comes to the aid of boats which set off both from its own shores as well as that of neighboring Libya.
Since the beginning of the year, according to the UN Migration Agency IOM’ s Missing Migrants project, at least 721 people have lost their lives trying to cross the Central Mediterranean. Other organizations working in the migration field believe the figure is even higher. The figures for Missing Migrants were last updated on June 18, 2022.