The Red Crescent said on Wednesday that Tunisia has permitted dozens of migrants, largely from Bangladesh, to disembark after spending three weeks adrift in the Mediterranean.
At least 75 migrants were rescued last month in Tunisian waters by an Egyptian boat. The boat was left stranded 25 kilometres off the coast of Zarzis by local authorities in the governorate of Medinine who claimed that the migrant camps there were too congested to allow anyone to alight.
The migrants accepted to return to their countries in the following days after being stuck at sea for three weeks under harsh conditions, a Red Crescent employee named Mongi Slim told Reuters.
According to Red Crescent spokesman Mongi Slim, the migrants decided to return home after being contacted by representatives from the Bangladeshi Embassy. Red Crescent officials had earlier greeted passengers who had arrived at port 64 from Zuwara, Libya, in late May.
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They included Bangladeshis, nine Egyptians, a Moroccan, and a Sudanese national. At least 32 minors and migrants, among them, will be moved to a Sfax receiving centre from whence they would depart for their homes, according to Slim.
Authorities in Tunisia claimed they only allowed the migrants as an exception and because it was “humanitarian,” since they feared setting a precedent. Lorena Lando, the country director for the International Organization for Migration, expressed gratitude for Tunisia’s “renewed commitment to life and dignity.”
In order to assist migrants in the Mediterranean, she continued, it is important to implement a cooperative strategy. Neighbouring African migrants who are paying human traffickers to get to Europe frequently depart from Libya’s west coast.
However, their numbers have decreased as a result of an Italian-led initiative to break up smuggling networks and aid the Libyan coast guard. Last month, at least 65 migrants drowned when their boat collapsed off Tunisia after leaving Libya.
One person dies for every three who arrive at European ports, according to the UNHCR, which reported that 164 people had perished on the voyage in the first four months of 2019. This is fewer than in past years but represents a higher fatality rate.
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