Tunisia, another migrant tragedy unfolding
LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – As more sub-Saharian migrants are escaping from Tunisia, another tragedy is unfolding with at least five migrants are confirmed dead and another 28 are still missing after their boat sank off the coastline of the southern city of Sfax while trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Italy.
The Tunisian Forum for Social and Economic Rights confirmed the latest tragedy. In recent weeks, Sfax became the major departure point for migrants fleeing from Tunisia and other African and Middle Eastern countries because of poverty and conflicts in search of a better life in Europe.
The recent political upheaval, and the economic and financial crises are increasing significanty the departure of migrants from Tunisia towards Italy. Italy’s increase in migrants is largely due to the three days between March 9-11 when as many as 4,566 people reached the Italian shores.
However, according to humanitarian and life-saving NGOs, Maltàs political decision not to intervene and save lives in distress in its search and rescue area, is making it more difficult for migrants to reach Europe.
Maurice Stiel from Alarm Phone, confirmed that more voyages are being attempted from Tunisia but believes the main factor is “Maltàs systematic non-assistance policy”. “Migrant boats nowadays are trying to cross the Maltese search and rescue zone in order to reach Lampedusa or even Sicily, which of course prolongs journeys and makes them more dangerous. He added, “migrants trying to escape from northern Africa, especially Libya, seem to be aware that they cannot rely on any assistance coming from Malta.”
Tamino Bohm from NGO Sea Watch, also believes the small number of migrants saved by the Maltese Armed Forces is due to a lack of action on the part of Maltese authorities. “This is not a new trend and is connected to the current policies of the government,” he said, observing that aircraft belonging to Armed Forces Malta (AFM) remain “very active” in southern waters and is passing information to the Libyan coastguard.
According to unofficial United Nations data, 12,000 of those who have reached Italy this year set sail from Tunisia, compared with 1,300 in the same period of 2022. Previously, Libya was the main escape route for migrants from the North African region.
credit photo agenziafotogramma.it