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17 Tunisians missing after migrant boat capsizes on way to Italy

Anadolu Agency WORLD
Published February 12,2024
(File Photo)

At least 17 Tunisian nationals have been reported missing after their migrant vessel capsized off the northern coast of the North African nation, a local official said on Monday.

The missing people, including a five-year-old child, had set sail last week on a fishing boat from Bizerte, a Mediterranean port city in the country's north, Houssem Eddine Jebabli, the spokesperson for the Tunisian National Guard, told local media.

Search and rescue operations for the irregular migrants are ongoing, Jebabli said, adding that family members said their boat sunk after crossing the maritime border with Italy.

In 2023, a total of 1,300 Tunisian irregular migrants were reported missing, while more than 17,000 irregular migrants attempting to cross to Europe by sea had reached the continent, according to a statement issued on Feb. 6 by the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights.

North African countries like Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, and Morocco have witnessed attempts for years by migrants — mainly from sub-Saharan Africa — to reach Europe.