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Child’s body recovered off Tunisia coast after migrant boat sinks

June 3, 2023 at 9:29 am

Tunisian naval forces rescue migrants from the Mediterranean after the boats transporting them broke down while trying to reach Europe, in Tunisia on June 27, 2021 [Tasnim Nasri/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images]

The Tunisian Coast Guard recovered a child’s body off the country’s eastern coast on Friday, following the sinking of a migrant boat, according to a photographer working with Agence France-Presse (AFP).

The footage, taken by the photographer, showed a child’s body floating on the water’s surface, wearing blue shoes and a pink snowsuit. The child’s body was recovered off the coasts of Sfax and Kerkennah Island.

The Coast Guard suggested that the child was Cameroonian, as more than 200 migrants from Cameroon were rescued off the Sfax coast in the last two days after their boats sank.

The child’s mother is still missing, according to the same source.

The Cameroonian Embassy in Tunisia could not confirm the information, however.

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A spokesperson for the Sfax court, Faouzi Masmoudi, told AFP that two boats carrying migrants from sub-Saharan Africa sank off Sfax’s coast on Wednesday.

He confirmed that six people died and 39 were rescued from the first boat, while 12 people from the second boat were rescued and 41 others are missing.

Masmoudi was unable to determine whether the child was on board one of these two boats.

The province of Sfax includes the second largest Tunisian city and is the starting point for many illegal crossings by immigrants towards the Italian coasts.

Some Tunisian coasts are less than 150 kilometres from the Italian island of Lampedusa, and attempts at illegal immigration are regularly recorded.

Attempts by African migrants to cross from Tunisia intensified after President Kais Saied made statements on 21 February, in which he criticised illegal immigration, considering it a demographic threat to his country.

Tunisia is going through a serious political and economic crisis, driving many Tunisians to try to illegally reach Europe by sea.

On 25 May, the Tunisian National Guard announced the arrest of an organiser of illegal immigration operations.

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