Tunisia’s navy rescues 81 migrants headed to Europe from Libya

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The Tunisian navy said Saturday it rescued 81 migrants, one of them a woman, who had set out for Europe from Libya on a barely seaworthy vessel.

The boat, which had been damaged, was boarded around six kilometers (four miles) off Tunisia’s northeastern coast, the navy said.

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It carried 38 Egyptians, 32 Bangladeshis, 10 Sudanese and a Moroccan, all aged between 20 and 38, who had set off from the coastal village of Abu Kammash, close to Libya’s border with Tunisia, according to what they told officers.

They were handed over to the national guard for processing.

Tunisia and neighboring Libya are key departure points for migrants seeking to reach European shores, often in poorly-maintained vessels.

The Italian island of Lampedusa is only about 130 kilometers from the Tunisian coast.

Last month, Libyan authorities arrested 542 would-be migrants preparing to depart for Europe in inflatable boats, a security source said.

An AFP photographer said most were originally from Bangladesh.

The International Organization for Migration has said that nearly 2,000 migrants drowned or went missing in the Mediterranean in 2021, compared to 1,401 the previous year.

It is the world’s deadliest migration route, but people hoping to build a better life in Europe increasingly risk it.

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