At least 17 Tunisians who were on a migrant boat heading towards the Italian coast are missing, a Tunisian national guard official said today, according to Reuters.
The missing people, including a five-year-old child, had set sail on a fishing boat from Bizerte in northern Tunisia last week, the national guard official, Houssem Eddine Jebabli, told Reuters.
Coast guard and Navy forces, supported by helicopter, have begun search operations, the official said.
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.