The Tunisian Red Crescent reported on Saturday, July 3, that at least 43 migrants drowned in a shipwreck off the coast of Tunisia as they attempted the risky crossing to Europe.
Fishermen in the Mediterranean Sea also rescued another 84 people.
Mohamed Zekri, a spokesman for Tunisia’s defense ministry, said local fishermen rescued 84 migrants but refused to confirm the drowning of the remaining passengers on the boat.
Mongi Slim, the leader of the Tunisian Red Crescent, said the boat carrying 127 migrants from Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, and Bangladesh left Libya’s coastal city of Zuwara on Friday. He added there were 46 Sudanese, 16 Eritreans, and 12 Bengalis on board.
Libya is a common departure place for migrants attempting the perilous Mediterranean Sea journey.
As the weather has improved, the frequency of attempted crossings to Europe from Tunisia and Libya towards Italy has increased. Several drowning incidents have occurred off the Tunisian coast in recent months.
In the past few years, hundreds of thousands of people have risked their lives crossing the Mediterranean, many fleeing conflict and poverty in Africa and the Middle East.
The Tunisian coast guard rescued 178 migrants from the Mediterranean Sea last week after their boats broke down while attempting to reach Europe. Seven bodies were also spotted on the beaches of Djerba, a Tunisian island off its southern coast.
The Red Crescent claims it is unable to provide further shelter.
“The three centres in Zarzis are full and cannot shelter more people. We also have 380 other migrants in confinement in Djerba, with nowhere to go,” Slim said.
The Italian interior ministry estimates about 19,800 migrants have fled since the beginning of the year, compared to over 6,700 in the same period last year.