Some 3,073 Tunisians have made the perilous journey from to Italy across the Mediterranean Sea since the start of the year, an official at the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) revealed this week.
Head of the mission, Lorena Lando, said Tunisians made up the largest number of migrants traveling to Italy during this period. Ethiopians and Nigerians came in second and third place respectively.
Tunisian youths are taking to the waters in search of a better life in Europe amid a rise in unemployment in the country and increased frustration at the quality of life.
Youths are “pessimistic” about their future in Tunisia and set their sights on the “European paradise” as they head to the overcrowded boats which aim to transport them to a new life.
Neither the stories of sinking boats and people struggling to survive the journey, nor the increased security campaigns to stop the migrant flows deter the determined youths from making their escape.
During the session of the Commission of Tunisians Abroad, Lando said that between 1 January and 30 April 2018, about 1,910 Tunisian immigrants arrived in Italy. During the same period, 1,810 Ethiopians and 695 Nigerians made the journey.
Between 2011 and 2017 Tunisian authorities have foiled 950 attempts by illegal immigrants to travel to Europe by boat. An average of 25 people were caught on board the dinghies each time, 20,000 people are thought to have been stopped during this time.
A study by the Tunisian Forum of Economic and Social Rights (FTDES), carried out by the end of 2016 on illegal immigration in Tunisia, showed that 54.6 per cent of young people (aged between 18 and 35) are ready to emigrate, 31 per cent of whom are ready for do so illegally.
The rise in unemployment rates and the increase in prices, in addition to the Prime Minister Youssef Chahed’s announcement that his government is suspending the recruitment of graduates in the public sector, estimated at more than 500,000 young people, have led to a rise in youth migration in recent months.