Creating new perspectives since 2009

1,313 migrants dead or missing off Tunisia in 2023

February 13, 2024 at 12:16 pm

African migrants are seen living in makeshift tents, set in a field, after their arrival in Sfax to reach Europe via Mediterranean Sea in the hope of a better life conditions, in Sfax, Tunisia on 31 January, 2024 [Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency]

The number migrants reported dead or missing off the Tunisian coast last year reached a record 1,313, a Tunisian rights group said today, highlighting the worsening migrant crisis in the North Africa country.

This number represented about 75 per cent of the total number of dead or missing people off the coasts of Italy, Libya and Malta, Ramadan Ben Amor, an official at the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights (FTDES), told Reuters.

It added that 17,322 migrants arrived on the coast of Italy in 2023, of whom approximately 20 per cent were Tunisians, it added.

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.

In mid-July last year, the European Union reached a long-awaited agreement with Tunisia to cooperate in limiting the flow of irregular migration to Europe’s Mediterranean shores.

Under the memorandum of understanding, the European Union agreed to provide financial and technical support to Tunisia so the latter could deter irregular migration towards Europe. International law experts and humanitarian groups warned that the deal could lead to major violations of human rights instead of helping to solve complex issues.

READ: Arrivals of irregular migrants to Italy via Mediterranean more than doubled in 2023