70,000 migrants intercepted by Tunisia in 2023: official

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A Libyan border guard gives water to a migrant during a rescue operation near the border with Tunisia.

A Libyan border guard provides water to a migrant throughout a rescue operation close to the border with Tunisia.

TUNIS – Close to 70,000 migrants have been intercepted making an attempt to cross the Mediterranean from Tunisia to Italy this 12 months, greater than double the 2022 determine, Tunisia’s National Guard instructed AFP on Saturday.

Tunisia, together with Libya, is the primary departure level for hundreds of migrants hoping to succeed in Europe.

The variety of interceptions by Tunisian authorities was 69,963 for the primary 11 months of 2023, in comparison with 31,297 in the identical interval final 12 months, in line with knowledge from the National Guard.

Foreigners up 78 %, and the remainder had been Tunisian.

That was a big change from 2022, when 59 % had been international migrants.

The exodus accelerated in February after Tunisian President Kais Saied denied the arrival of “unlawful migrants” from sub-Saharan Africa who he stated had been a part of a “prison plan” aimed toward ” to alter the demographic composition” of the nation.

The speech sparked a violent anti-immigrant marketing campaign, prompting a number of African international locations, notably the Ivory Coast and Guinea, to repatriate hundreds of their residents, and lots of migrants tried to flee by boat, which ‘left some to sink.

The United Nations and humanitarian NGOs have accused Tunisia of “deporting” migrants to Libya and Algeria, which the Tunisian authorities deny.

International humanitarian sources instructed AFP that at the least 5,500 migrants have been deported to the border with Libya and three,000 with Algeria since June, together with a big quantity caught making an attempt to go away for Europe.

More than 100 migrants have died in the Libyan-Tunisia desert this summer time, they stated, including that “collective deportations to Libya and Algeria are persevering with”.

Most of the migrants had been intercepted on the east coast of Tunisia close to Sfax, which is simply about 130 kilometers (80 miles) from the Italian island of Lampedusa.

This summer time, a brawl in Sfax in which a Tunisian was killed sparked a wave of occasions, prompting police to ship tons of into the desert.

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