The Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights (FTDES) has confirmed that almost 13,500 Tunisian migrants have arrived in Italy since the beginning of this year. The figure is an increase on the 11,042 who made the journey in the same period last year.
The arrivals included 624 women and 2,635 minors — 1,822 of them unaccompanied — said the organisation. It added that 507 would-be migrants have drowned off the coast of Tunisia since the beginning of this year.
The official spokesperson of the FTDES, Ramadan Ben Omar, told journalists that, "The migration crisis continues while the Tunisian institutions and ministries are silent." He said that he places the "full responsibility" for this on the "Tunisian presidency".
The Tunisian Ministry of the Interior announced on Tuesday that the coast guard had thwarted "34 clandestine crossings of the maritime borders and rescued 554 migrants" overnight. Last week, 12 Tunisians drowned when their boat sank off the country's east coast.
Tunisia is witnessing a severe political and economic crisis. Poverty is increasing among its population of 12 million. According to the FTDES, one of the most important reasons for the increase in irregular migration is the "tense political atmosphere. There is a sense of frustration and insecurity in the country."
The European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) has revealed that the route across the central section of the Mediterranean Sea was used by over 42,500 migrants from January to July, an increase of 44 per cent compared with the first seven months of 2021.