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In Tunisia, departures at sea are multiplying with an increase of 226% compared to the same period last year, according to figures from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Tunisians, as well as sub-Saharan migrants, are increasingly numerous to attempt the crossing, especially from the city of Sfax, in the east of the country, which has become the hub for departures to Europe. While European countries, particularly Italy, are sounding the alarm on the risk of a migration crisis by the summer, the Tunisian authorities are finding it increasingly difficult to contain the flows. Our correspondents Lilia Blaise and Hamdi Tlili were able to join the Maritime National Guard during a patrol operation at sea.
The Tunisian National Guard announced on Friday 7 April that it had intercepted or rescued over the first three months of the year more than 14,000 candidates for emigration to Europe, mainly from sub-Saharan Africa, i.e. five times more than during the same period in 2022.
From 1er January to March 31, the coast guards “thwarted 501 clandestine maritime border crossing operations and rescued 14,406 people, including 13,138 from sub-Saharan Africa, the rest being Tunisians”, announced the spokesman of the Guard. national on Facebook. The 2023 statistics are “up very sharply because there are a lot of departures”, he added.
Several dozen candidates have died in a series of shipwrecks and others have been missing since a violent speech on February 21 by President Kaïs Saïed condemning illegal immigration. He had claimed that the presence in Tunisia of “hordes” of illegal immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa was a source of “violence and crimes” and was part of a “criminal enterprise” aimed at “changing the demographic composition” of the country. country.
After this speech, a good number of the 21,000 nationals of sub-Saharan Africa officially registered in Tunisia – most of them in an irregular situation – had lost their jobs, generally informal, and their housing overnight, as a result of the campaign against the illegals.
>> To read also: “A climate of fear”: in Tunisia, sub-Saharan migrants stigmatized and attacked
According to the Italian Interior Ministry, more than 14,000 migrants have arrived in Italy since the start of the year, compared to just over 5,300 during the same period last year and 4,300 in 2021.