At least 17 migrants drown in shipwreck off Tunis

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SFAX, TUNISIA - DECEMBER 24: Bodies of victims are seen after a fishing boat carrying 40 African migrants capsized near the shores of Sfax, Tunisia on December 24, 2020. Tunisian coast guards on Thursday rescued five people and recovered bodies of 20 migrants from the sub-Saharan Africa after a boat capsized off the coast of Tunisia. (Photo by Houssem Zouari/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

At least 17 African migrants drowned in a shipwreck off Tunisia as they tried to cross the Mediterranean from Libya to Italy, the Tunisian Red Crescent said on Thursday.

The Tunisian coastguard had rescued two Nigerian women in waters off the southern town of Zarzis, Red Crescent official Mongi Slim also said.

The ship started on Sunday from Zawyia in Libya with 19 migrants on board.

Last month, at least 40 migrants drowned off Tunisia’s port of Sfax south of Tunis.

The United Nations said at least 300 people have perished in the central Mediterranean crossing this year while trying to get to Europe.

The UN refugee agency UNHCR says fewer than 23,500 people have made its across the sea to Europe this year, with most new arrivals landing in Italy and Spain from Tunisia and Algeria.

The agency estimates 633 people have died or gone missing on the way this year.

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