Tunisia says 82 migrants intercepted or rescued while trying to get to Europe

Map of Tunisia

Tunisian authorities intercepted five new migration attempts overnight and rescued or intercepted 82 people, the interior ministry said on Friday.

National Guard units “from the north, center, south and coast” of Tunisia foiled the attempts “as part of the fight against irregular migration”, a statement said.

Tunisia and neighboring Libya are key departure points for migrants hoping to reach Europe — usually Italy — and sea crossing attempts tend to increase during spring and summer.

Friday’s statement said 76 people were rescued in four operations at sea, and another six were intercepted on land in the Gabes and Sfax areas.

It did not provide details the nationalities of the migrants or report on the condition of the boats they used.

The statement said that both Tunisian and foreign currency were seized, although the amounts were not specified.

Media in the North African country reported a shipwreck on Tuesday off the Kerkennah islands in which eight Tunisians — three women, four children and a man — died. Another 20 people were saved.

And on Sunday, the National Guard said that 170 people from sub-Saharan Africa were among 255 migrants intercepted during 17 attempted crossings.

Italian authorities say 34,000 people arrived in the country by sea up to July 22 this year, compared with 25,500 over the same period in 2021 and 10,900 in 2020.