Tunisia’s coast guard has rescued 48 Tunisian migrants whose boat began sinking as they tried to reach Italy by sea, the interior ministry said Saturday. A patrol spotted the vessel on Friday night off Jebeniana, 210 kilometers (130 miles) south of Tunis. The nine-meter (30-foot) craft “was sinking after taking on water,” the ministry said in a statement. The passengers were all Tunisians aged 16 to 40, from the governorates of Medenine and Sfax, it added.
Tunisians regularly try to cross the Mediterranean to seek a better future in Europe, but departures peaked last September.
According to NGOs, the uptick reflected frustration among young people hard hit by unemployment. In October, a collision between a migrant boat and a Tunisian military ship left at least 44 dead, in what Prime Minister Youssef Chahed called a “national disaster.”—AFP