More than 650 migrants, including Egyptians from Libya, were rescued or intercepted by Tunisian maritime and military authorities this weekend as they attempted to cross the Mediterranean to Europe, official sources told us on Monday.
A total of 657 people, including a Tunisian family with wives and children, were rescued or prevented from leaving the country in 46 different attempts to leave the country between Friday and Monday, according to the maritime and military authorities.
In the night from Sunday to Monday, “units of the maritime guard from the north, the center and the south coast managed to thwart 10 border crossing attempts (maritime direction Italy, editor’s note) and to save 156 people, according to the National Guard in an opinion. Among those 156 migrants, the authorities have identified 102 nationals from Sub-Saharan Africa, the other 54 are Tunisians.
Dozens of people flee to an oil platform
Also on Sunday, off the Kerkennah archipelago (centre-east), the national navy “rescued 42 Egyptians” who had left the Libyan coast the night before, Defense Ministry spokesman Mohamed Zekri said.
They had sought refuge on an oil platform in the south-east of the archipelago after their boat sank. Last weekend, a boat carrying 30 Tunisian migrants sank in the same area and only 20 were rescued.
About 15,000 euros for a boat, engines and vests
In addition, police prevented another attempt to leave a family of 15 from Kairouan (centre), including five women and four very young children, from Hammamet (centre-east) on Friday night.
According to a security source interviewed by Radio Mosaïque FM, they had spent about 50,000 dinars (about 15,000 euros) to get a boat, two motors and life jackets.
Migrants mainly from Tunisia and Libya
Tunisia is in a serious economic crisis and now has 4 million poor people. Libya has been in chaos since 2011 as militias manage the lucrative trade in migrants from sub-Saharan Africa. In spring and summer, thanks to the milder weather, illegal emigration attempts to Europe increase.
Italy, some of whose coasts are only 200 km from the Tunisian coast, is one of the main entry points for migrants from North Africa. They come mainly from Tunisia and Libya, two border countries from which departures have picked up again in the last two years after slowing down during the Covid epidemic.
According to the European agency Frontex, the central Mediterranean route was used by more than 42,500 migrants between January and July, a 44% increase compared to the first seven months of 2021.