43 migrants drown off Tunisia; 84 rescued

Published July 4, 2021
In this file photo, a group of Tunisian migrants arrive on a rubber boat after being rescued by the Tunisian coast guard off the coast of Bizerte, Tunisia, on October 12, 2017. — Reuters/File
In this file photo, a group of Tunisian migrants arrive on a rubber boat after being rescued by the Tunisian coast guard off the coast of Bizerte, Tunisia, on October 12, 2017. — Reuters/File

TUNIS: At least 43 migrants drowned off the coast of Tunisia on Saturday and 84 others were rescued after their boat capsized overnight, the Tunisian Red Crescent said.

Mongi Slim, head of the organisation, said that the boat, which was carrying 127 migrants, left Libya’s coastal city of Zuwara on Friday to cross the Mediterranean Sea toward Italy.

He said 46 Sudanese, 16 Eritreans and 12 Bengalis were among the migrants.

The defence ministry’s spokesperson, Mohamed Zekri, said the 84 migrants were rescued by fishermen.

He declined to confirm the drowning of the other migrants.

Libya is a frequent departure point for migrants making the dangerous Mediterranean Sea crossing.

Several shipwrecks from smugglers’ boats carrying migrants have occurred in recent weeks, as attempts to reach Europe become more frequent amid warmer summer weather.

Last week, Tunisian coast guards found seven bodies on the beaches of Djerba, an island off the southern coast.

They were buried at the cemetery for migrants in Zarzis, Tunisia, who perished in the Mediterranean Sea.

The head of the Red Crescent, meanwhile, launched an urgent call about the fate of hundreds of migrants who escaped death as his organization has no means to provide housing.

The three centers in Zarzis are full and cannot shelter more people.

We also have 380 other migrants in confinement in Djerba with nowhere to go, Slim said.

Published in Dawn, July 4th, 2021

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