Tunisia Coast Guards Search For 17 Migrants Missing at Sea

Published By: Pragati Pal

Last Updated: February 13, 2024, 00:00 IST

Tunisia as well as neighbouring Libya have become the main departure points for irregular migrants, often from other countries, who risk perilous sea journeys in the hopes of reaching better lives in Europe. (Representational Image/AP)

The group includes at least one minor travelling with his father and one woman, Jebabli said, noting they are all Tunisian nationals

Seventeen Tunisian migrants are missing a week after embarking from a Mediterranean port city in the country’s north, Tunisia’s coast guard said Monday, after relatives had urged the authorities to find them.

“Search operations continue to find 17 missing migrants who left the coast of Bizerte last Monday,” National Guard spokesman Houssem Eddine Jebabli told AFP.

The group includes at least one minor travelling with his father and one woman, Jebabli said, noting they are all Tunisian nationals.

Tunisia as well as neighbouring Libya have become the main departure points for irregular migrants, often from other countries, who risk perilous sea journeys in the hopes of reaching better lives in Europe.

The families of the 17 missing Tunisians demonstrated on Saturday in central Bizerte, calling on the authorities to find their loves ones, according to local media.

The bodies of 13 Sudanese migrants who had left from Tunisia’s Sfax were recently found, a court spokesman in the coastal city of Monastir said on Thursday, with 27 other people who had sailed with them still missing.

During the first 11 months of 2023, Tunisian authorities intercepted 69,963 irregular migrants, according to the National Guard — more than double the figure for the same period in 2022.

Some 2,498 people died or went missing while attempting to cross the central Mediterranean in 2023, a 75-percent increase on the previous year, according to the UN’s International Organization for Migration.

Tunisia’s worsening economy, with a 1.2-percent growth estimate by the World Bank for 2023 and unemployment at 38 percent, has pushed more migrants to seek better opportunities across the Mediterranean.

Political tensions have also impacted Tunisians since a 2021 power grab by President Kais Saied.

(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – AFP)

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