The Tunisian coastguard has recovered 41 bodies from the country’s waters, bringing the total number of victims of refugee shipwrecks to 210 in just 10 days, according to a national guard official. Most of the asylum seekers who are attempting to reach Italy from Tunisia are from sub-Saharan Africa, Syria, and Sudan. The number of boats carrying them has risen sharply in recent months, partly due to authorities in neighboring Libya cracking down on departures.

Tunisia is struggling to manage the refugee shipwrecks, with morgues and hospitals in the key launchpad city of Sfax now full. Faouzi Masmoudi, the justice official in the port city, stated that there is a problem with large numbers of corpses arriving on the shore and that the situation is creating a health hazard as morgues are running out of space. DNA swabs are taken from each body before burial to help with identification.

The number of refugees leaving Tunisia has increased since President Kais Saied made a speech on February 21, claiming that irregular immigration was a demographic threat to Tunisia. While most refugees come from further south in Africa, Tunisia is also experiencing a worsening economic crisis that has pushed many citizens to take desperate measures in search of better lives abroad.

Refugee Shipwrecks: Tunisia Retrieves Bodies of 41 Drowned Refugees (News Central TV)

Romdhane Ben Amor of the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights (FTDES) reports that at least 220 dead and missing have been recorded in Tunisia this year to 24 April after several refugee shipwrecks, with the majority being from sub-Saharan Africa. Over three-quarters of refugees leaving Tunisia depart from the coast between Sfax and Mahdia, around 90km north. The problem of managing the bodies of those drowned in shipwrecks is further complicated by local authorities’ decision to create a special cemetery for migrants since they are not Muslims, despite many of those drowned being from Muslim-majority nations.

Last month, the coast guard reported that it had stopped about 80 boats heading for Italy in just four days and detained over 3,000 people, the majority of whom were from Sub-Saharan African countries. Similarly, the Italian news agency ANSA reported that over 2,000 asylum seekers had arrived on the Italian island of Lampedusa in the previous 24 hours.

The situation is tragic, and Tunisia needs support to manage the increasing number of refugees arriving on its shores.

Refugee Shipwrecks: Twenty-Five Dead After Boat Ferrying People to Europe Sinks off Tunisia

Earlier this month, at least 25 people died in devastating refugee shipwrecks off the shores of Tunisia, where boats carrying individuals from sub-Saharan Africa on their way to Europe capsized.

The Tunisian coastguard reported the discovery of 15 bodies, following the recovery of 10 bodies on the previous day, after the refugee shipwrecks occurred near the coastal city of Sfax.


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