Mediterranean Claims 20 More Migrant Lives Off Tunisian Coast

At least 20 migrants drowned off the coast of Sfax after their boat carrying 53 people bound for Europe sank on Tuesday.

  • By externalwire | June 9, 2020,5:09 pm
Mediterranean Claims 20 More Migrant Lives Off Tunisian Coast

The bodies of 20 migrants trying to reach Europe washed up on the Sfax coast on Tuesday, Tunisian Coast Guard officials reported. The Coast Guard, assisted by the Army, are searching for other passengers from the boat which left Tunisia carrying 53 migrants sometime over the weekend of June 6-7 in an attempt to reach Italy. 

“Horrible news coming in from Tunisia,” UNHCR Global Spokesperson for Africa, Middle East and the Mediterranean Charlie Yaxley tweeted in response to the drownings. 

“Severe lack of search and rescue capacity on the central Med[iterranean]. More rescue boats, including NGO boats, save lives,” he stressed.  

Special Envoy of the UNHCR for the Central Mediterranean Situation Vincent Cochetel said he was, “sad for the lives lost and the affected families” of Tunisia’s latest migrant boat tragedy.   

“There are legal alternatives for refugees and migrants in Tunisia. No one should feel so desperate to risk their life. Hope the smugglers will face justice,” Cochetel tweeted on June 9.  

Smugglers Thwarted  

The tragedy may have been much worse, if it were not for Tunisian authorities who thwarted dozens of migrants from attempting to cross the Mediterranean last week and seized over $200,000 cash in from suspected migrant smugglers.  

The Coast Guard prevented 12 people, all Tunisian citizens, from trying to illegally reach Europe last week. They seized two cars, three motorbikes, three boat moats, fuel, and $7,700 in cash during two separate operations at Zahruni and in the governorates of Tunis and Ariana. 

Meanwhile, the Tunisian National Guard stopped four would-be irregular migrants in the Sfax Governorate, where the latest boat capsize took place early on Tuesday. The National Guard also seized $137,000 from three alleged migrant smugglers on June 3. 

One of the men arrested admitted smugglers were receiving between $1,050 to $1,500 for each migrant they could get on a boat to Europe. The total combined cash recovered from illegal migration operations in the last week now stands at $233,300.

Read also: Tunisia: Zero New COVID-19 Cases Reported, Recoveries Up

Related Articles

Turkish delegation visits Libya
High-level Turkish Delegation Seeks Increased Cooperation with Libya

Despite ongoing uncertainty in Libya, Turkey is looking to ensure market access for Turkish companies.

Black Lives Also Matter at Europe’s Borders
Black Lives Also Matter at Europe’s Borders

As Europeans show solidarity with US protests against systemic racism, they would do well to examine the xenophobia killing ethnic minority migrants seeking asylum through their borders.

UNHCR: Staggering 79.5 Million People Currently Displaced
UNHCR: Staggering 79.5 Million People Currently Displaced

Last year, an additional 11 million people were pushed out of their homes by violence, persecution, political unrest, famine, climate change, and other disasters.

Charities Set Up Migrant Camp in Center of Paris
Charities Set Up Migrant Camp in Center of Paris

A collective of humanitarian charities led by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) set up a camp housing around 100 “unaccompanied, isolated foreign minors” in a square just off Paris’ Place de la Republique on Monday night.  The five groups involved are calling on the French government to take greater responsibility for young foreign migrants, many of […]