Tunisia recovers bodies of mostly Syrian migrants

Migrants arriving from Tunisia and Libya aboard a Guardia Di Finanza boat after their own boat nearly sunk off the coast of Italy. (File photo courtesy: UN)

The Tunisian Coast Guard has recovered more than 41 bodies of mostly Syrian migrants who drowned trying to sail to Europe, the Associated Press reported a Tunisian official as saying on Saturday.

Decomposed bodies washed up on shore Friday, suggesting the sinking of another boat carrying migrants seeking a better life in Europe.

Mustapha Abdel Kebir, the mayor of Ben Guerdane, a border town with Libya, said identity papers recovered from the bodies indicated that most were Syrian, including women and children.

Abdel Kebir said the boat was most likely an overcrowded inflatable raft, that likely sailed from Libya before sinking and the currents washed the bodies up on Tunisian shores.

He added that fishermen reported seeing many more bodies in the sea over the past days.

Tunisian fishermen say they regular fish migrants, both dead and alive, out of the sea, attempting to make their way to Europe and say they have been overcome by this year’s flood of Africans and Middle Easterners seeking a new life in Europe.

The fishermen say they’ve seen up 30 boats of migrants leaving each day for Italy, each with a capacity of between 50 and 250 people, but it’s difficult to get exact numbers. Organizations such as the Red Crescent are trying to help some of the migrants picked up by the Tunisian Coast Guard.

The Italian navy said rescued more than 93,000 migrants since the start of the year.

With the breakdown in security in neighboring Libya, it has become a major jumping off point for boats carrying Syrian and sub-Saharan African refugees seeking a better life in Europe.


Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:42 - GMT 06:42