TUNIS: At least five Tunisian migrants died on Saturday when their boat sailing to Italy capsized off the Tunisian coast, officials said.
“A migrant boat carrying dozens capsized on Saturday off the coast of Monastir … Naval forces rescued 49 Tunisian migrants and recovered five bodies of Tunisian migrants,” a naval official told Reuters.
Boat smugglers make use of Tunisia’s proximity to the Italian island of Lampedusa to ship migrants there, with Tunisian authorities rescuing dozens of people travelling in unsafe boats in the past few weeks.
Most boat smugglers prefer to operate out of Libya to exploit a security vacuum in the neighbouring country struggling with a power dispute between two governments.
A month after nearly 900 migrants drowned in the worst Mediterranean shipwreck in living memory, the flow of people desperate to reach a better life in Europe has accelerated as people smugglers take advantage of calmer seas.
Last week, the European Union agreed a naval mission to target gangs smuggling migrants from Libya.