Friday, June 14, 2024

19 African asylum seekers drown while attempting Mediterranean crossing to Italy

At least 19 refugees and migrants from sub-Saharan Africa have drowned off the coast of Tunisia while trying to cross the Mediterranean and reach Italy.

More than 2,000 asylum seekers had arrived on the Italian island of Lampedusa within 24 hours, according to Italy’s ANSA news agency. The agency described the arrivals on Saturday as a “record”.

The deaths occurred when a boat carrying the refugees and migrants sank off the coast of Tunisia’s Mahdia after a journey that started from Sfax beaches,
Romdhane Ben Amor, an official at the Forum for Social and Economic Rights (FTDES), told the Reuters news agency.

In the last four days, at least five boats carrying refugees and migrants have sunk off the southern city of Sfax, leaving 67 missing and nine dead.

The latest disaster comes amid a campaign of arrests by Tunisian authorities of undocumented sub-Saharan Africans. According to FTDES statistics, Tunisia’s coast guard prevented more than 14,000 refugees and migrants from setting off in boats during the first three months of this year, compared with 2,900 during the same period last year.

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