Tunisia Rescues over 14,000 Illegal Migrants in 2023

Illegal migrants are rescued by the Tunisian coast guard. (AFP)
Illegal migrants are rescued by the Tunisian coast guard. (AFP)
TT

Tunisia Rescues over 14,000 Illegal Migrants in 2023

Illegal migrants are rescued by the Tunisian coast guard. (AFP)
Illegal migrants are rescued by the Tunisian coast guard. (AFP)

Tunisian authorities announced on Friday they have rescued more than 14,000 illegal migrants attempting to reach Europe during the first quarter of 2023.

The Tunisian National Guard said on Friday that from January 1 to March 31, 2023, it thwarted 501 operations to cross the Mediterranea and rescued 14,406 migrants, including 13,138 from sub-Saharan African countries.

The others were Tunisians, it added.

Hossam El-Din El-Jababli, a spokesman for the National Guard, told AFP that these figures are fivefold higher compared to the first quarter of 2022 when “2,532 people were rescued in 172 operations.”

According to Jababli, 1,657 out of them were from sub-Saharan Africa.

The Coast Guard in the central region, which covers the areas of Sfax and Mahdia, thwarted during the first quarter of 2023 388 attempts to illegally cross the sea and rescued 13,259.

The Coast Guards arrested 63 people and seized 135 boats and 12 vehicles used in the illegal operations.

Some Tunisian shores are less than 150 km away from Lampedusa Island and often witness attempts by illegal migrants, mostly from Sub-Saharan Africa, to reach Italy.

Dozens of migrants drowned in a string of incidents in March.

On Feb. 21, President Kais Saied spoke of "hordes of illegal migrants" whose presence in Tunisia he called a source of "violence and crimes” with the aim of “changing Tunisia’s demographic composition”.

Hundreds of migrants were deported by their embassies, following Saied’s remarks, but many expressed concerns about returning home and called on the UN to organize flights to safe third countries.

According to the Italian interior ministry, more than 14,000 migrants have landed in Italy since the start of the year, compared to over 5,300 during the same period last year and 4,300 in 2021.



Israel Bombs Gaza after US Criticizes High Civilian Toll

Palestinians inspect at the site of an Israeli strike on a house, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in the central Gaza Strip, July 16, 2024. REUTERS/Ramadan Abed
Palestinians inspect at the site of an Israeli strike on a house, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in the central Gaza Strip, July 16, 2024. REUTERS/Ramadan Abed
TT

Israel Bombs Gaza after US Criticizes High Civilian Toll

Palestinians inspect at the site of an Israeli strike on a house, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in the central Gaza Strip, July 16, 2024. REUTERS/Ramadan Abed
Palestinians inspect at the site of an Israeli strike on a house, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in the central Gaza Strip, July 16, 2024. REUTERS/Ramadan Abed

Israel renewed its bombardment of the Gaza Strip Tuesday, after the United States renewed its criticism of its ally over the high civilian casualty toll of the war.

Residents told AFP of Israeli warplanes striking central Gaza and artillery fire hitting the territory's south, while medics said they pulled multiple bodies from the rubble of the latest bombardment.

Hours earlier, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told two top Israeli officials that casualties among Palestinian civilians "still remain unacceptably high".

"We continue to see far too many civilians killed in this conflict," spokesman Matthew Miller said after Blinken meth Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer and National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi.

Washington has been pushing for a truce between Israel and Hamas.

But Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh said Sunday that the group was pulling out of indirect talks for a deal in protest at recent Israeli "massacres", including a massive strike on Sunday that the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said killed at least 92 people.

Haniyeh said Hamas stood ready to return to the indirect talks once Israel "demonstrates seriousness in reaching a ceasefire agreement and a prisoner exchange deal".

After the latest deadly strikes, medics from the Palestinian Red Crescent said they recovered four bodies from a house outside the southern city of Khan Yunis and another from Nuseirat camp in the central Gaza.

The Israeli military said that over the previous 24 hours its air force struck "approximately 40 terror targets" in Gaza. They included "sniping posts, observation posts, Hamas military structures, terror infrastructure, and buildings rigged with explosives".

It said its troops were also continuing targeted raids in the far-southern city of Rafah and in the central Gaza Strip.