TUNIS – Tunisian authorities have found the bodies of 15 migrants who perished while attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe, according to the coast guard.
The victims were discovered on beaches near the town of Mahdia, 200 kilometers (124 miles) south of Tunis, according to a coast guard statement. According to the report, the majority appeared to be Tunisians, with some from Sub-Saharan Africa.
Because of its proximity to the southern Italian island of Lampedusa, Mahdia is commonly used as a transit point for migrants from the Middle East and Africa fleeing poverty, violence, and persecution.
Separately, the coast guard retrieved the bodies of eight migrants off the shore of Tunisia’s southern port town of Zarzis, close the Libyan border, on Monday.
According to the Tunisian Red Crescent, they were among 18 young Tunisians, largely between the ages of 16 and 18, who set sail for Europe in a makeshift boat on Sept. 26 from the Zarzis region.
On Friday, rescuers were still looking for more survivors.
Residents of Zarzis have accused officials of moving too slowly to begin the search and rescue operation, and have organized a demonstration this week, chanting, “Bring our children back to us.” Demonstrators set fire to tires and halted traffic on the city’s major thoroughfare.
Tunisians are increasingly risking their lives in quest of a better life in Europe, despite gloomy economic prospects and a lengthy political turmoil.
According to the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights, an NGO that regularly tracks migration, 507 Tunisian migrants have perished or gone missing in the Mediterranean so far in 2022.
According to National Guard spokesman Houssameddine Jebabli, from January to September 2022, the coast guard foiled almost 1,500 attempts at illegal migration to Italy, involving entire families and approximately 2,500 youngsters.
According to the defense ministry, approximately 200 migrants, including eight children, were captured at sea over the weekend.