The Tunisian National Guard yesterday thwarted 18 irregular migration operations heading to Italy and rescued 340 migrants.
National Guard spokesperson, Hossam El-Din El-Jabali, was quoted by local media as saying that the naval units along Tunisia's northern coast had thwarted "18 stealth infiltration attempts towards Italy."
"340 irregular migrants were rescued, 193 of whom were sub-Saharan African nationals," El-Jabali added.
The official pointed out that the rescued migrants had included "four wanted Tunisians, one of whom was sentenced to 42 years in prison as a result of his links to public rights cases."
Over the past few months, Tunisian authorities have been thwarting illegal migration attempts through the Mediterranean to Europe on a daily basis, and detaining hundreds of people on board.
Emigration from Tunisia has been on the rise as a result of the financial instability in the country. Between 2011 and 2018, EU assistance to Tunisia amounted to over €2.5 billion ($2.9 billion), including over €1.7 billion ($2 billion) in grants and €800 million ($922 million) in macro-financial assistance, in an effort to help boost the economy and encourage the creation of jobs to entice Tunisians to remain in their country and not make the perilous journey across the Mediterranean to Europe.