134 Migrants Rescued, 39 Drown in Another Tragic Shipwreck

430 views | Akpan Akata | March 11, 2021

June 7, 2014 - Mediterranean Sea / Italy: Italian navy rescues asylum seekers traveling by boat off the coast of Africa. More than 2,000 migrants jammed in 25 boats arrived in Italy June 12, ending an international operation to rescue asylum seekers traveling from Libya. They were taken to three Italian ports and likely to be transferred to refugee centers inland. Hundreds of women and dozens of babies, were rescued by the frigate FREMM Bergamini as part of the Italian navy's "Mare Nostrum" operation, launched last year after two boats sank and more than 400 drowned. Favorable weather is encouraging thousands of migrants from Syria, Eritrea and other sub-Saharan countries to arrive on the Italian coast in the coming days. Cost of passage is in the 2,500 Euros range for Africans and 3,500 for Middle Easterners, per person. Over 50,000 migrants have landed Italy in 2014. Many thousands are in Libya waiting to make the crossing. (Massimo Sestini/Polaris)

One hundred thirty-four survivors, most of them from Côte d’Ivoire, have been rescued from another migrants’ shipwreck that claimed the lives of at least, 39 people.

The survivors were brought to shore by Tunisia’s coast guard.

While rescue operations are still ongoing, hampered yesterday by harsh weather conditions, the 39 people drowned in a shipwreck off Kerkennah island.

A second shipwreck took place off the coast of Jebeniana city in Sfax governorate. The boat had 70 persons on board, including four children, who were all taken to shore.  

These are the latest in a string of shipwrecks off Tunisia’s coast.

International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and UN refugee agency, UNHCR, are deeply saddened by the latest loss of life in the Central Mediterranean, after two boats capsized off Tunisia’s shores on Tuesday, March 9. 

IOM and UNHCR work with partners in the country to give emergency assistance and health support to survivors. In 2021, the Tunisian authorities have carried out 21 sea rescue operations – sometimes of boats departing from Libya’s coast. 

UNHCR’s Representative in Tunisia, Hanan Hamdan, says “the approach adopted by Tunisia shows that it’s not only necessary but possible to guarantee the safety of those rescued, while providing for the health and security of the host communities.”

IOM’s Chief of Mission in Tunisia, Azzouz Samri, adds “we commend the search and rescue efforts of the Tunisian authorities and will continue to support them in providing urgent humanitarian assistance to those rescued at sea.”  

Some 190 people have died while crossing the Central Mediterranean in 2021, while roughly 5,700 others arrived in Italy from North Africa. This is an average of almost three deaths per day.   

Continuing, Samri said “the central Mediterranean continues to claim lives as thousands of people embark on these perilous journeys, whether fleeing extreme poverty, conflict, or in search of a better life.  

“We continue to call for proactive search and rescue in the most dangerous sea crossing in the world, and the establishment of clear and safe disembarkation for people rescued at sea.” 

The two agencies are stressing that prosecuting smuggling groups and traffickers who take advantage of the vulnerabilities of people and put them on risky journeys must be a priority. 

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