Migrants of South Asian origin rescued by Tunisia’s national guard during an attempted crossing of the Mediterranean by boat rest at the port of el-Ketef in Ben Guerdane in southern Tunisia near the border with Libya on June 24, 2021. – (Photo by FATHI NASRI/AFP via Getty Images)
TUNISIAN authorities rescued 267 south Asian migrants, 264 of whom were Bangladeshis, who tried to sail from Libya to Europe across the Mediterranean sea on Thursday (24).
The navy helped bring the migrants to shore at the Ben Guerdane port in southern Tunisia, near the border with Libya after their boat broke down, and they were handed over to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Red Crescent, the coastguard said.
The migrants were placed in quarantine at a hotel on the Tunisian island of Djerba, the IOM said.
According to IOM figures, more than 1,000 migrants hoping to reach Europe had set off from Libya and ended up in Tunisia since January, and the number of departures is rising.
There have been 11,000 departures from January to April 2021 from Libya, 70 per cent more than in the same period last year, according to UN refugee agency UNHCR.
The agency said the “deteriorating” conditions of migrants in Libya and Tunisia are pushing many to make the dangerous crossing from the North African coast to Europe.
Red Crescent official Mongi Slim said centres set up to house migrants in Tunisia are full.
According to the UN, at least 760 people have died making the Mediterranean crossing between January 1 and May 31, compared with 1,400 last year.