Tunisian authorities have been refusing to receive a rescue boat with 40 migrants on board unless aid is provided for them, the Tunisian Red Crescent said yesterday.
Monji Slim, an official of the Tunisian Red Crescent, said the authorities had argued that Malta or Italy should accept the migrants.
“The African migrants at sea are in a bad condition after the vessel’s captain refused to receive aid to pressure the Tunisian authorities to receive them, but no solution has been reached after 11 days at sea,” Slim told Reuters yesterday.
It was not clear from where the migrants had originally set off before they were rescued by the Tunisian vessel, however the rescue boat is now located 12 miles from the Tunisian coast.
According to Reuters, the Italian government closed its ports to aid organisations operating in the Mediterranean saying that the EU must share the responsibility with Rome for receiving rescued migrants mostly setting off the Libyan coast.
Tunisia rejected an Italian proposal to set up a migrant centres in Africa to restrict the flow of illegal migrants sailing to Western Europe.
At least 82 migrants, most of them Tunisian, died when their boat drowned off the Tunisian coast last month.
Human traffickers are increasingly using Tunisia as a launch pad for migrants heading to Europe as the Libyan coast guard, aided by armed groups, has cracked down on such activity in the country.