From file: A Tunisian coast guard cutter operating in the Mediterranean Sea | Photo: ANSA/Paolo Paluzzi
From file: A Tunisian coast guard cutter operating in the Mediterranean Sea | Photo: ANSA/Paolo Paluzzi

Twenty people were rescued from the Mediterranean by Italian officials some 12 miles off Lampedusa on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Tunisian authorities intercepted more than 120 people enroute to Italy between Tuesday and Thursday.

The twenty migrants and refugees were rescued by a finance police cutter on Wednesday (August 17). They had reportedly departed from Sfax in Tunisia, and are originally from Guinea and the Ivory Coast. The boat on which they were traveling was adrift; it was damaged and risked sinking, security sources said.

The passengers included 14 women, one of whom was pregnant. After disembarking, the migrants were taken to the island's hotspot; the pregnant woman was taken to the local health clinic for a checkup.

Tunisia: 127 migrants intercepted at sea

Meanwhile, Tunisian coast guards said that over the past two days they have stopped seven "attempts to illegally cross maritime borders," intercepting 127 people at sea on boats bound for Italy.

During the night between August 16 and 17, coast guard boats blocked six boats at sea carrying a total of 63 people, the spokesperson of the National Guards in Tunis said on Facebook.

He added that 12 of the migrants were of various African nationalities while the remaining passengers were Tunisian citizens.

26 people arrested before departure

During the night between August 17 and 18, another boat bound for Italy was stopped by coast guards. The boat was carrying 64 Egyptian citizens, according to the National Guards spokesperson.

He also said that National Guard units from the regions of Sfax, Shashaba and Kerkennah arrested 11 people who were preparing to emigrate by sea.

In similar operations in Manzil, Tamim, Mahdia and Kelibia, an additional 15 people were arrested as they were preparing to cross the Mediterranean to reach Italy, according to the spokesman.

Italy has recently registered an increase of migrant and refugee arrivals from Tunisia. The country is the second largest transit country for people attempting to reach EU country Italy via the Mediterranean Sea, after Libya. Italy and the EU have a controversial agreement with the Tunisian government, trading financial support for measures taken to curb migration.


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