Shipwreck leaves four Tunisia migrants dead including one child, seven missing: authorities

Shipwreck leaves four Tunisia migrants dead including one child, seven missing: authorities
2 min read
21 January, 2022
Four Tunisian migrants, including a young girl have died, after a boat carrying migrants sank off in the city of Sfax, with seven others missing. Search operations are still continuing.
Local authorities say that a shipwreck has left four Tunisian, including a young girl dead and seven others missing. [Getty Images]

Four Tunisians, including a young girl, have died and seven others are missing after a boat carrying migrants sank off the country's central city of Sfax, the authorities said Friday.

The boat had set off from Tunisia on Wednesday and went down overnight near the islands of Kerkennah, National Guard spokesman Houssem Eddine Jebabli told AFP.

"According to witnesses, there were 32 migrants on board, all of them Tunisians," he said, adding: "We rescued 21 and quickly recovered a first body."

The coast guard later found three other bodies, including that of a girl aged about 10, Tunisian media reported.

"Search operations to find the other missing persons are continuing," the spokesman added.

The UN High Commission for Refugees previously said more than 2,500 people died or went missing in 2021 while attempting to reach Europe via the Mediterranean and northwestern Africa route.

More than 115,000 people arrived by sea in Italy, Greece, Spain, Cyprus and Malta last year, according to the UNHCR.

Tunisia is a key transit point on the route of migrants, both from the country and beyond, seeking to make it to Europe.

The country- cradle of the Arab Spring protests over a decade ago- has been embroiled in political crisis since a July 25, 2021 power grab by President Kais Saied.

The president suspended parliament and sacked the government and said he would assume executive powers, before taking steps to effectively rule by decree.

Since the uprising 11 years ago, the country has struggled to meet the people's economic needs.