Forty-five illegal migrants were rescued by coastguards off the Kerkennah archipelago in eastern Tunisia, the Tunisian National Guard said on Sunday. Their boat had broken down on one of the two main islands of the archipelago, spokesman of the National Guard Houssemeddine Jebabli told AFP, saying that the rescue had taken place in the morning.
Those rescued, mostly nationals from sub-Saharan Africa, are “in good health,” he said, mentioning the presence of two pregnant women on board. Their boat had left the Libyan coast to reach Europe, according to the spokesman, adding that the migrants were being supported by the Tunisian Red Crescent.
The country has witnessed several deadly shipwrecks. The most recent one in June killed 87 people, mostly Tunisian migrants, after the sinking of their boat off the island of Kerkennah. At the end of July, the authorities had decided “for humanitarian reasons” to welcome 40 migrants rescued by a commercial vessel that had been waiting for two weeks to berth off Zarzis in southern Tunisia.
An increasing number of Tunisians looking for work and future prospects are trying to go illegally to Italy via the Mediterranean. Tunisia is considered one of the main crossings of illegal migrants, mainly from sub-Saharan Africa, to Europe, mainly Italy.