Following an attempt to reach Italy: 40 Tunisians lost in the Mediterranean

The Tunisian Coast Guard announced that about forty Tunisian irregular migrants, who were trying to reach Italy by sea, had been missing for 5 days, while the International Organization for Migration indicated that the number of people who drowned in the Mediterranean Sea while trying to reach Europe increased during the year 2023 by 60 percent compared to 2022.

The Coast Guard indicated in a statement, on Tuesday, January 15, that “an irregular migration operation was launched towards Italy from the coast of Sfax, during the night between January 10 and 11, 2024, by a group of approximately 40 people originally from the Sfax Province.”

The statement added: “All the field units of the Naval Guard Territory in the center and the National Guard Territory in Sfax, including boats, guards, drones, and a helicopter, were deployed, in addition to coordination with the field units of the Sea Army, in order to carry out a search operation.”

Search operations are still underway on the coast of Sfax, which is considered the most prominent departure point for irregular migrants, both for Tunisians and sub-Saharan African countries, towards the Italian coast.

A group of families of missing persons demonstrated in the “Hansha” area of ​​Sfax Governorate, blocking the road, setting fire to rubber tires, and demanding that the authorities intensify search operations, local media reported.

Tunisia, along with Libya, represent the main departure points from North Africa for thousands of migrants seeking to reach Europe.

As of November 2023, the Tunisian National Guard intercepted 69,963 migrants, compared to 31,297 during the same period in 2022, according to statistics reported by Guard spokesman Houssam Eddine Jebali.

The numbers show that 77.5 percent (54,224) of those intercepted were foreigners, the majority of whom were nationals of sub-Saharan African countries, while the rest were from Tunisia (15,739), compared to 59 percent foreigners in 2022 (18,363) and 12,961 Tunisians.

According to the International Organization for Migration, more than 2,270 people died in 2023 in the central Mediterranean while trying to reach the coasts of Europe irregularly, an increase of more than 60 percent compared to 2022.

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