At least 43 migrants drowned in a shipwreck off of the Tunisian coast, as they tried to cross the Mediterranean from Libya to Italy, while another 84 were rescued, the Tunisian Red Crescent said on Saturday.
The boat had set off from Zuwara, on Libya’s Northwest coast, carrying migrants from Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea and Bangladesh, the humanitarian organisation said.
In recent months, several drowning incidents occurred off the Tunisian coast, with an increase in the frequency of attempted crossings to Europe from Tunisia and Libya towards Italy. This most likely due to the improved weather conditions.
“The navy rescued 84 migrants and 43 others drowned in a boat that set off from Libya’s Zuwara towards Europe,” Red Crescent official, Mongi Slim, said.
Hundreds of thousands of people have made the perilous Mediterranean crossing in recent years, many of them fleeing conflict and poverty in Africa and the Middle East.
In the years since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that ousted and killed longtime leader Moammar Gaddafi, war-torn Libya emerged as the dominant transit point for migrants fleeing war and poverty in Africa and the Middle East.
Smugglers often pack desperate families into ill-equipped rubber boats that stall and founder along the perilous Central Mediterranean route.