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Eight migrants drown, 12 missing off Tunisia

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Eight Tunisian migrants have drowned and 12 others gone missing after their boat sank during a clandestine attempt to reach Italy, a security source said on Thursday.

A further 17 people who were attempting the journey were rescued, he told AFP.

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According to survivors, the passengers – all from the North African country – had set out from the coastal region of Sfax.

The coast guard is still searching for survivors, the security official said.

Tunisia is a key departure point for migrants seeking to reach the Italian island of Lampedusa just 130 kilometers (80 miles) away, often in vessels that are barely seaworthy.

While many making such journeys come from impoverished or strife-torn sub-Saharan African countries, growing numbers of Tunisians are attempting the trip as a long-running economic crisis escalates.

The summer months also tend to see higher numbers of people making such journeys.

According to the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights, more than 2,000 Tunisian children were among more than 10,100 migrants from the North African country to have made it to Italy since the start of 2022.

The EU’s Frontex border agency says more than 42,500 migrants used the central Mediterranean route between January and July, up 44 percent compared with the first seven months of 2021.

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