Sinking off the Coast of Tunisia: More than 80 Missing Migrants

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Sinking off the coast of Tunisia: more than 80 missing migrants

An inflatable boat with more than 80 migrants aboard, mainly from West Africa, was wrecked between Libya and Tunisia. There are only three survivors.

A boat with more than 80 migrants on board was wrecked between Libya and Tunisia, leaving fears of dozens dead, according to the testimony of one of the three survivors who spent two days hooked to what was left of the boat.

“We spent two days like that, hanging on the wood,” says AFP, still in shock, Soleiman Coulibaly. This young Malian rescued in extremis Wednesday 3rd July 2019, by a Tunisian boat, struggles to evoke his ordeal and to reconstruct the facts.

“We were about 80”, “Guineans, Ivorians, Malians, Burkinabe”, he shouts, throat knotted. “There were four women, one pregnant, one with her baby, and all stayed in the water.”

The boat, an inflatable boat, left Monday at the dawn of the Libyan city of Zouara, 120 km west of Tripoli , with 86 people on board, told AFP a Marine Guard officer Tunisian speaking on condition of anonymity and based on the statements of a miracle.

Three survivors

Monday “at noon, the boat began rocking, the water started to enter the boat, the people were traumatized, some fell into the water, they stayed there …”, Souleiman says.

It evokes a fire when gasoline caught fire when the boat began to sink.

Four survivors, three Malians and one Ivorian, were rescued by the National Maritime Guard, alerted by fishermen, told AFP spokesman Houcem Eddine Jebabli.

The rescued Ivorian died Thursday in the hospital, and one of the Malians is still hospitalized in intensive care, told AFP the Red Crescent and a local office of the National Maritime Guard.

Soleiman, for its part, is currently living in a migrant home in Zarzis, in southern Tunisia, where 16 survivors, mostly Bangladeshis, had already passed through another shipwreck between Libya and Italy at the beginning of May.

He says the shipwrecked called the “European” help until those who had the phones fall into the water.

After two days adrift, hanging on what was left of the boat, the last four survivors saw Wednesday “a small fishing boat,” he adds. Rescued by the National Guard, they were hospitalized and treated.

” Take responsibility “

“The death of 80 migrants is feared, more information is needed to confirm what happened and the exact number of missing,” tweeted Thursday Flavio Di Giacomo, a spokesman for the International Organization of migration.

According to a statement issued by the Tunisian government to AFP, Prime Minister Youssef Chahed said on Wednesday during a visit to Zarzis that “the issue of refugees and migrants is not the responsibility of the Republic. Tunisian “but that” all countries must take responsibility “.

In recent weeks, dozens of exile candidates trying to rally Italy from western Libya have been rescued off Tunisia.

“The status quo can not continue,” said Vincent Cochetel, UN High Commissioner for the Central Mediterranean’s Special Envoy, calling for “alternatives” so that “people do not their life in danger “by doing these” desperate crossings “.

The war and chaos in Libya is pushing migrants, particularly sub-Saharans, to illegally join Europe. On Wednesday, more than 44 migrants were killed and 130 wounded in an aerial bombardment against their detention centre near the Libyan capital, Tripoli.

A few days after the sinking of about 60 people in early May, some 75 migrants, again mostly Bangladeshi, rescued in the Mediterranean at the end of May, had been stranded for more than two weeks on the deck of a boat off Zarzis.

The Tunisian authorities initially refused to admit these migrants, demanding that they agree to be returned to their country before being released, and many of them have since been sent back to Bangladesh by IOM.

Last August, another commercial boat, the Sarost 5, was stuck for more than two weeks at sea with the 40 illegal immigrants he had rescued. Anxious not to set a precedent, the Tunisian government stressed that it accepts these migrants exceptionally and for “humanitarian” reasons.

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