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Dozens drown as two boats sink off Tunisia in latest Med tragedy

The coastline near the Tunisian port city of Sfax has become a main departure point for people fleeing conflict and poverty in Africa and the Middle East and seeking a better life in Europe [File: Houssem Zouari/AP Photo]

Dozens drown as two boats sink off Tunisia in latest Med tragedy

At least 39 people have died when two boats sank off Tunisia while they were trying to succeed in Europe, officials have said, within the latest disaster within the Mediterranean.

All the deceased were from sub-Saharan African countries, Mohamed Zekri, spokesman for Tunisia’s defence ministry, said on Tuesday.

The coastguard rescued 165 people who were on board the boats heading to the Italian island of Lampedusa, he added. look for more survivors was on off the coast of the port city of Sfax.

The coastline near Sfax has become a main departure point for people fleeing conflict, persecution and poverty in Africa and therefore the Middle East and seeking a far better life in Europe.

In 2019, about 90 people from African nations drowned when their boat capsized off the Tunisian coast after setting off for Europe from neighbouring Libya.

The past year has seen a surge of makeshift boats attempting to cross the central Mediterranean, the deadliest route for people trying to succeed in Europe.

Between January 1 and February 21, some 3,800 people arrived in Italy by sea, including nearly 1,000 via Tunisia and a couple of ,500 via neighbouring Libya, consistent with the United Nations’ refugee agency.

In February, 22 people of varied African nationalities who departed Sidi Mansour, near Sfax, disappeared stumped , while 25 were rescued by the Tunisian navy about 100km (62 miles) from Lampedusa. One body was retrieved.

The world organization for Migration says quite 20,000 people have died within the Mediterranean since 2014.

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