Tunisia 13 Sudanese migrants killed in shipwreck 27 missing

Tunisia: 13 Sudanese migrants killed in shipwreck, 27 missing

Thirteen Sudanese migrants died and twenty-seven are missing after their iron boat sank off the Tunisian coast near Sfax on Thursday, Monastir court spokesman Farid Ben Jha told AFP.

• Also read: Tunisia: 5 migrants dead and 7 missing in new shipwreck

• Also read: 41 migrants are missing after a shipwreck in the Mediterranean

According to the only two survivors of the shipwreck, a total of 42 Sudanese were on a makeshift boat that left the coast of Jebiniana, near Sfax (centre-east).

Operations are underway to find more shipwrecked people, assured Mr Ben Jha.

The victims were all Sudanese men and nationals and had asylum seeker cards issued by the High Commission for Refugees in Tunisia. According to the first information gathered, these refugees had boarded a very fragile metal boat made of hastily welded pieces of scrap metal.

An investigation has been launched to determine responsibilities, Mr Ben Jha added, not ruling out the possibility that these migrants “were exploited in a case of human trafficking or in the formation of a criminal group to secretly join the EU “.

Along with Libya, Tunisia is the main starting point for thousands of migrants who want to reach Europe illegally. The first Italian coasts, including the island of Lampedusa, are less than 150 km from the Sfax region.

In the first eleven months of 2023, the number of candidates for illegal emigration intercepted by the Tunisian authorities amounted to 69,963 people, more than twice as many as in the same period last year, according to statistics provided by the spokesman for the Tunisian government AFP has transmitted National Guard.

According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), more than 2,270 people died in the central Mediterranean in 2023 while trying to reach Europe secretly, up 60% from the previous year.