The balance of the shipwreck of migrants in Tunisia worsens: about fifty corpses recovered – La Stampa


FROM THE CORRESPONDENT OF CATANIA. The toll of the sinking of a boat of migrants in front of Tunisia, which took place on the night of 4 to 5 June, is worsening hour by hour. The latest data provided by the Tunisian authorities speaks of about fifty bodies recovered: the sad confirmation that no one was saved, given that there were 53 women on the fishing boat that left from Sfax to try to reach Lampedusa, among them many women and children: 22 corpses of women and three of children so far recovered from the Tunisian Navy. The drowned migrants would almost all be of Sub-Saharan origin but there is also a Tunisian who seems to have been at the helm of the boat. The shipwreck occurred between El Louza (Jebeniana) and Kraten, off the Kerkennah islands, and only last Monday the alarm was raised and research began. “I am deeply saddened to have heard of women and children who lost their lives on those dangerous trips – said Hanan Hamdan, UNHCR representative in Tunisia – and worried about this new departure trend. We must provide people with significant alternatives that can prevent extreme choices in the search for a better life. “

In recent months, thousands of migrants from Tunisia have attempted to cross the Sicilian Channel. Many have been blocked by the Tunisian Navy and Coast Guard and have been brought back: “1243 only in May, numbers that were not registered from 2011-2012,” said Romdhane Ben Amor of the Tunisian Forum for Economic Rights and social Ftes). Others managed to reach the coasts of Lampedusa or Sicily. Just the Tunisian one, however, is the second nationality for the number of arrivals in Italy: 843 are the Tunisians arrived from the beginning of the year, preceded only by citizens of Bangladesh. In a statement, the Ftes accused the European Union’s non-reception policy, “willing to do anything to hamper the arrival of migrants,” said Ben Amor. The Forum then asked the Tunisian authorities to treat the victims’ corpses with dignity, assuring them of a worthy burial and taking DNA samples in order to insert them in a database accessible to families in search of their loved ones.

The departures of migrants from Tunisia are only part of the phenomenon which, as is known, is also very much fueled by neighboring Libya from where the crossing to the north shore of the central Mediterranean, in particular Lampedusa and Sicily, is much longer and more dangerous. Thousands of people are estimated, among those imprisoned in the official detention centers and those seized in the hovels of the traffickers of men, who are pressing to leave: “For about 1,500 people currently present in the detention centers – said Sacha Petiot, Head of Mission of Doctors without borders in Libya – despair is reaching its peak again. The arrest of UNHCR humanitarian flights and IOM repatriation services, in the wake of travel restrictions linked to Covid-19, is destroying their only hope of finding a way out of a cycle of abuse and violence ».

Since yesterday, the Ionian Sea has returned to the sea, the humanitarian ship of Mediterranea Saving Humans, the only Italian NGO to deploy a boat and a crew for the search and rescue of shipwrecked people at sea. Leaving Trapani, it is the second NGO ship to return to the central Mediterranean after months of absence. Last week the Sea Watch 3 of the German NGO of the same name had left Messina and, moreover, is finishing building another ship, the Sea Watch 4. In the next few days a new mission of Ocean Viking, the ship of the French NGO Sos Mediterranee currently in port in Marseille; it will be the first after the end of the collaboration with Medici senza frontiere.

Precisely on the NGO issue, today the Minister of the Interior Luciana Lamorgese, speaking to the Senate in the Question time, said that “we are receiving positive signals to arrive at European guidelines on the search and rescue activity conducted in the Mediterranean by NGOs, so to arrive at homogeneous technical standards and empower flag states “and defined the pre-agreement of Malta in September 2019” a fundamental step for Europe’s greater involvement in the management of the migration phenomenon. France and Germany have made formal commitments for the first time for the redistribution on their territory of people landed in Italy. It is not a point of arrival but a push to develop a reform of migration policies “.

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