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At least 5 die as migrant boat sinks off Tunisia

February 15, 2024 at 4:47 pm

The Tunisian National Guard rescues irregular migrants off the city of Sfax as they try to make their way to Europe on 12 August 2023. [Yassine Gaidi – Anadolu Agency]

At least five African migrants died after their boat sank off Tunisia today as they were trying to reach the Italian coast, a Tunisian national guard official said, according to Reuters.

The coast guard recovered their bodies and rescued another 44 people from the same boat off the southern coastal town of Zarzis, Houssem Eddine Jebabli said.

More than 97,000 people crossed the Mediterranean from Tunisia to Italy in 2023, according to UNHCR. Tunisian migration groups estimate there are between 20,000 and 50,000 sub-Saharan migrants in the country.

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