The Tunisian National Guard reported Thursday that at least 14 African migrants perished as 54 were rescued after a boat transporting them to Europe sank off the coast of Tunisia.
Houssameddine Jbabli, a spokesman for Tunisia’s National Guard, told the Associated Press that 14 carcasses were recovered overnight in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of central Tunisia’s Sfax region. The National Guard reported that the migrants originated from sub-Saharan Africa, but did not disclose their nationalities.
Jbabli stated that 14 other boats carrying a total of 435 migrants attempting a similar voyage from the central and southern regions of Tunisia were intercepted the same night.
People fleeing conflict or poverty routinely board boats from Tunisian shores to Europe, despite the fact that, according to the International Organization for Migration, the central Mediterranean is the most perilous migration route. Many are from sub-Saharan Africa, but people of other nationalities also risk the journey.
After President Kais Saied reportedly lashed out at sub-Saharan migrants, Tunisian authorities have ramped up arrests of Africans without residency papers in recent weeks.