Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 November 2019

Tunisia prevents 75 migrants from coming ashore

More migrants are arriving in Tunisia as the European Union attempts to reduce migrant numbers arriving on its shores

A migrant sits on board a rescue boat in the central Mediterranean Sea. Reuters
A migrant sits on board a rescue boat in the central Mediterranean Sea. Reuters

Tunisian authorities prevented 75 rescued migrants from coming ashore on Saturday, according to a rights group and the captain of the rescue ship.

The migrants were adrift in international waters in a boat with a broken engine when an Egyptian tug boat brought them aboard, the captain said on condition of anonymity.

"We're in a critical situation, we're nearly 100 on board and we don't have more than two days of supplies of water and food," the captain told AFP by phone.

The tug boat crew rescued 64 Bangladeshis, nine Egyptians, one Moroccan and one Sudanese. The migrants departed from Zuwara in western Libya, according to FTDES.

After notifying authorities in Italy and Malta, the crew headed for the southern Tunisian port of Zarzis where authorities prevented the ship from docking.

Tunisian rights organisation Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights (FTDES) said the regional governor demanded government support before accepting the migrants, following an increase in new arrivals from neighbouring Libya in recent months.

Tunisian authorities did not respond to AFP's requests for comment.

Around 60 migrants, most from Bangladesh, drowned off the coast of Tunisia last month after leaving Libya on a boat bound for Europe.

The EU has intensified efforts to prevent boat departures from Libya since 2016, according to Human Rights Watch.

The human rights organisation said the bloc and Italy have provided material and technical assistance to the Libyan Coast Guard in an attempt to limit the number of migrants arriving on European shores.

There has been a significant reduction in rescue vessels operating in the Mediterranean Sea in recent months, with humanitarian boats facing legal woes as countries such as Italy impose hardline migration policies.

Updated: June 2, 2019 11:15 AM

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