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Tunisia rescues 264 Bangladeshi migrants adrift in Mediterranean Sea

  • Published at 02:53 pm June 25th, 2021
Migrants South Asian Bangladesh Tunisia
Migrants of South Asian origin rescued by Tunisia's national guard during an attempted crossing of the Mediterranean by boat rest at the port of el-Ketef in Ben Guerdane in southern Tunisia near the border with Libya on June 24, 2021 AFP

The navy helped bring the migrants to shore at the Ben Guerdane port in southern Tunisia

Tunisia authorities on Thursday rescued 267 migrants, including 264 Bangladeshis, who tried to sail from neighbouring Libya to Europe across the Mediterranean, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said.

Tunisia's coastguard said the migrants, who also included three Egyptians, had been stranded at sea after their boat broke down.

The navy helped bring the migrants to shore at the Ben Guerdane port in southern Tunisia, near the border with Libya, and they were handed over to the IOM and the Red Crescent, the coastguard said.

The migrants were placed in quarantine at a hotel on the Tunisian island of Djerba, the IOM said.

Migrants of South Asian origin rescued by Tunisia's national guard during an attempted crossing of the Mediterranean by boat rest at the port of el-Ketef in Ben Guerdane in southern Tunisia near the border with Libya on Thursday, June 24, 2021 | AFP

According to IOM figures, more than 1,000 migrants hoping to reach Europe had set off from Libya and ended up in Tunisia since January, and the number of departures is rising.

There have been 11,000 departures from January to April 2021 from Libya, over 70% more than in the same period last year, according to UN refugee agency UNHCR.

The agency said the "deteriorating" conditions of migrants in Libya and Tunisia are pushing many to make the dangerous crossing from the North African coast to Europe.

Red Crescent official Mongi Slim said centres set up to house migrants in Tunisia are full.

According to the UN, at least 760 people have died making the Mediterranean crossing between January 1 and May 31, compared with 1,400 last year.