Another boat sinks off Tunisia, killing 19 African asylum seekers | Refugees News

The latest deaths come as Italian media reported a record 2,000 refugees and migrants had arrived in Lampedusa within 24 hours.

According to a human rights group, at least 19 refugees and migrants from sub-Saharan Africa drowned off the coast of Tunisia while trying to cross the Mediterranean to Italy.

Reports of the deaths came early on Sunday when Italy’s ANSA news agency said more than 2,000 asylum seekers had arrived on the Italian island of Lampedusa within 24 hours.

The agency described Saturday’s arrivals as a “record”.

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

He said the Tunisian coast guard had rescued five people from the boat.

Tunisian authorities were not immediately available for comment.

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

The coast guard earlier said it had intercepted about 80 boats headed for Italy in the past four days and arrested more than 3,000 people, mostly from sub-Saharan African countries.

The coast near Sfax has become a major departure point for people fleeing poverty and conflict in Africa and the Middle East in the hope of a better life in Europe.

The latest disaster comes amid a campaign by Tunisian authorities to arrest undocumented sub-Saharan Africans.

According to UN data, at least 12,000 people arriving in Italy this year have sailed from Tunisia, compared with 1,300 in the same period in 2022.

Previously, Libya was the main departure point for refugees and migrants.

According to FTDES statistics, Tunisia’s coast guard prevented more than 14,000 refugees and migrants from boarding boats in the first three months of this year, compared with 2,900 in the same period last year.

The Italian coast guard said on Thursday it had rescued about 750 asylum seekers in two operations off the southern coast of Italy.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said on Friday that Europe risks seeing a huge wave of refugees and migrants from North Africa flock to its shores if financial stability in Tunisia does not exist. protected.

Meloni called on the International Monetary Fund and a number of countries to quickly help Tunisia so that it does not collapse.

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