TUNIS (Reportase One) – Tunisian coastal police have recovered the bodies of 15 immigrants, bringing the death toll from a boat accident off the Tunisian coast to 25, security officials told Reuters on Thursday.
A wooden boat carrying 110 migrants sank on Wednesday off the coast of the city of Sfax and 76 people were rescued while the rest are still missing.
Shipwrecking accidents in Tunisia have increased dramatically in recent weeks, leaving dozens of people dead and missing, amid a sharp increase in boats carrying migrants bound for Italy from the Tunisian coast.
The coast guard recovered the bodies of 14 immigrants including six women from African countries, and one Tunisian who was the captain of the ship, according to national guard official Houssem Eddin Jebabli.
Tunisia became a major departure point previously in Libya by people fleeing poverty and conflict in Africa and the Middle East in hopes of a better life in Europe.
There was a threefold increase in people wanting to reach the European Union via the Mediterranean in the first three months of 2023 compared to last year, according to the bloc’s border agency, while the UN immigration agency expressed grave concern about the deadliest first quarter since 2017.
Tunisia’s National Guard said this month more than 14,000 migrants, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa, were intercepted or rescued in the first three months of this year trying to cross into Europe, five times the number recorded in the same period last year.
On Tuesday, Italy’s right-wing government declared an immigration emergency following a sharp increase in arrivals from the Mediterranean region, a move that allowed the expedited return of illegal immigrants.
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Translator: Yoanita Hastryka Djohan
Editor: Atman Ahdiat
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