“Departures and Shipwrecks Multiply Off the Coast of Tunisia”

Two Shipwrecks Off Tunisia Result In Death Or Disappearance Of At Least 27 Migrants.

Not a single day passes in Tunisia without the sea carrying new bodies. The coast guard has carried out five times more interceptions at sea in the first quarter of 2023 than last year.

The situation has worsened since President Kaïs Saïed’s racist speech about the presence of migrants in the country, and it is causing great concern among European partners.

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Reporter stationed at Tunis, Amira Souilem

Five times more interceptions at sea in the first quarter of 2023 than last year… The figures from the Tunisian coast guard illustrate the tragedy playing out off the coast of Tunisia since the beginning of the year.

The number of bodies recovered every week now reaches into the dozens, and over 200 corpses currently rest in the morgue of the Sfax hospital, which is now well beyond capacity. A cemetery dedicated to the bodies washed up on the shore is now being considered in the region.

Since President Kaïs Saïed’s speech, which equated the presence of thousands of West and Central African nationals in Tunisia to a criminal scheme aimed at altering Tunisia’s supposed Arab-Muslim identity, the departure of sub-Saharan Africans has multiplied.

Racist speech fueling the crisis

Some have hastened their departure to Europe, while others have decided to take to the sea rather than returning to their home country.

As for Tunisians, the economic and political crisis that has rocked their country for months has left a segment of the population despairing, sometimes saying they would prefer death to staying in a country that, in their opinion, offers no prospects.

The period of Eid – considered a more relaxed time in terms of coastal surveillance – is also conducive to such departures.

While the reasons for leaving Tunisia are varied, European concern, especially from the Italians – who are the first to receive these arrivals – is the same: to see the number of departures increase even more, as the warmer weather approaches and the economic and social situation stagnates.

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