Mediterranean: About Sixty Drowned Migrants

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About 60 migrants drowned in the Mediterranean trying to reach Europe

Nearly sixty migrants have died since Saturday evening in the Mediterranean off Tunisia and Turkey trying to reach Europe.

Nearly sixty migrants have died since Saturday evening in the Mediterranean off Tunisia and Turkey trying to reach Europe, when the new Italian Minister of the Interior hammered in Sicily his anti – immigration speech.

Forty-eight bodies were rescued off the coast of the governorate of Sfax, southern Tunisia and 68 migrants were rescued, said Sunday the Ministry of Defense in a balance sheet still provisional.

This report was published around 19h local (18h GMT), after stopping research operations that will continue Monday morning, said Colonel Mohammed Salah Sagaama, commander of the naval base in Sfax.

Water seeped into the boat

The boat was spotted in the night while it was “about to sink” off the Kerkennah archipelago, according to the Tunisian Interior Ministry.

The identity of the deceased is not known. Among the survivors are 60 Tunisians, one Libyan and seven nationals from other countries of the Maghreb and South Africa, he added.

” The boat had a maximum capacity of 75 to 90 people but there were more than 180, ” said Wael Ferjani, a Tunisian survivor from the region of Gabes (south), still in shock.

As the water seeped into the boat, migrants jumped into the water and some drowned, he added.

Women and children

This sinking of migrants is the deadliest in the Mediterranean since 2 February when 90 people, mostly Pakistanis, have died drowned off Zouara in western Libya, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) .

Tunisians seeking employment and a better life regularly try to cross the Mediterranean, towards Italy.

In March, 120 people, mostly Tunisians, attempting to clandestinely reach the Italian coast were rescued by the Tunisian navy.

And in October 2017, 46 migrants had died off Kerkennah after the sinking of their boat collided with a Tunisian military ship.

Location of the city of Sfax and the island of Kerkennah in Tunisia.
Location of the city of Sfax and the island of Kerkennah in Tunisia. (© AFP / Sophie RAMIS)

Further east of the Mediterranean, nine Syrian migrants, including seven children, who were trying to reach Europe lost their lives on Sunday when their boat sank off the Turkish coast, the Turkish news agency Anadolu said. . Six people, all adults, were saved.

More than a million people, many of whom were fleeing the war in Syria, had joined Greece from Turkey in 2015. The number of people attempting the often perilous crossing had subsequently dropped sharply as a result of an agreement reached between European Union (EU) and Turkey in 2016.

But observers note that the number of people attempting the crossing has again begun to increase in recent months.

Italy not a “refugee camp”

Off the coast of Spain, 240 migrants have been rescued since the beginning of the weekend, relief workers said.

Survivors of one of the boats told the rescue that a passenger had fallen into the water and “saw the corpse float”. The body could not be fished.

With more than 7,600 arrivals by sea including 237 deaths during the crossing of the beginning of the year to May 30th, Spain is the third gateway to illegal immigration in Europe , behind Italy and Greece but the second deadliest, according to IOM figures.

In Italy, Matteo Salvini , the patron saint of Italian sovereignists who became this week Interior Minister, went on  Sunday to Sicily to hammer the anti-immigration speech that brought him to power.

The different ports of the Italian island are important arrival points for migrants.

“Italy and Sicily can not be the refugee camp of Europe”, hammered the leader of the League.

“The good time for the stowaways is over: get ready to pack”

And beyond efforts in Italy, Salvini is expected Tuesday in Luxembourg for a meeting of EU ministers of the interior. On the menu: the revision of the Dublin agreement, which obliges migrants to apply for asylum in the first European country where they arrive. This agreement severely penalizes Italy, which has seen more than 700,000 migrants arrive since 2013.

The former Italian government’s controversial dealings with Libyan authorities and militias have, however, reduced arrivals of migrants by more than 75% since the summer of 2017.

Since the beginning of the year, 13,500 migrant arrivals have been registered in this country.

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