Migrants attempting to cross from Tunisia to Italy | Photo: EPA/Jose Sena Goulao
Migrants attempting to cross from Tunisia to Italy | Photo: EPA/Jose Sena Goulao

The death toll from a shipwreck off Chebba last week has risen to 11, mostly Tunisians. 12 others are still missing.

The Tunisian coastguard on Saturday night recovered five more bodies from a shipwreck last week, bringing the total death toll to 11.

Fourteen migrants who had also been on the overcrowded boat were rescued when it sank off Chebba on September 6.

Authorities said the boat had set off from the Sfax region. An anonymous security official told the Reuters news agency that most of the migrants in the boat were Tunisian nationals.

Read also: Tunisia: 'How can they tell us our sons have disappeared?'

Perilous journeys

The Tunisian coastline has become another departure region for migrants -- both from Tunisia and other countries -- trying to reach Europe.

With rising departures in recent months, the number of deaths at sea has increased, with dozens of drownings off the Tunisian coast.

While the Italian island of Lampedusa is only about 130 kilometres away from the northern coast of Tunisia, many don't live to see those shores.

Read also: Alleged Tunisian trafficker arrested on train in Italy

Grim prospects

Measures to curb irregular journeys from Tunisia have been stepped up.

According to official figures shared by the Agence France Presse (AFP) news agency, Tunisian authorities last week intercepted or assisted some 500 irregular migrants during several operations. Nearly 16,000 migrants have been intercepted and returned to Tunisia since the beginning of 2022.

According to the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights, more than 10,000 migrants have reached Italy from Tunisia since the beginning of the year. About one in five are reported to be under 18 years old.

Tunisia is, however, regarded a safe country of origin across the EU, which means that many migrants — especially adults — don't have a realistic long-term prospect of remaining in Europe.

Read also: 20 migrants rescued from ship adrift off Lampedusa

with Reuters, AFP


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