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Over 80 people feared dead after migrant boat capsizes off Tunisia

The tragedy comes after 44 migrants were killed in an air strike on their detention centre in Libya.

Tunisian coast
Tunisian coast
Image: Shutterstock/Rostovskaya Natalia

MORE THAN 80 migrants are feared dead after the boat they were travelling in sank off the coast of Tunisia. 

Only four of 86 migrants were rescued after their boat, which was crossing the Mediterranean from Libya to Italy, capsized, Tunisia’s coast guard said.

Three Malians and an Ivorian were rescued off Zarzis in southern Tunisia on Wednesday by the coast guard who had been alerted by local fishermen, the Red Crescent and the navy told AFP.

The Ivorian, however, died in hospital and one of the Malians has also been hospitalised in intensive care.

“About 80 migrants are feared dead. More updates are needed in order to confirm what happened and the actual number of missing,” a spokesperson for the International Organisation for Migration tweeted.

The UN refugee agency UNHCR said yesterday it was “saddened” by the latest tragedy off Tunisia’s shores.

“The status quo cannot continue,” the UNHCR Special Envoy for the Mediterranean said.

Nobody puts their lives and the lives of their families at risk on these desperate boat journeys unless they feel they have no other choice.
We need to provide people with meaningful alternatives that stops them from needing to step foot on a boat in the first place.

The latest tragedy comes after 44 migrants were killed in an air strike on their detention centre in a suburb in the Libyan capital of Tripoli. 

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Libya, which has been wracked by chaos since the 2011 uprising that killed veteran dictator Moamer Kadhafi, has long been a major transit route for migrants, especially from sub-Saharan Africa, desperate to reach Europe.

Tunisian fishermen are spending more and more time pulling in stranded migrants after a sharp decline in humanitarian and European naval patrols along the stretch of water between Libya and Italy.

European countries in the northern Mediterranean are trying to stem the number of migrants landing on their shores, and the Tunisian navy with its limited resources only rescues boats inside the country’s territorial waters.

With reporting by © – AFP 2019

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