By Tarek Amara
TUNIS (Reuters) -At least 10 Tunisian migrants were missing and one died after their boat sank off Tunisia as they tried to cross the Mediterranean to Italy, a judicial official said on Sunday.
Tunisia is facing an unprecedented migration crisis and has replaced Libya as a main departure point for people fleeing poverty and conflict in Africa and the Middle East in the hope of a better life in Europe.
The latest tragedy raises the number of dead and missing off the North African country’s coasts to more than 600 in the first half of 2023, far more than in any previous year, according to figures compiled by Reuters.
Tunisia’s coastguard rescued 11 people from the boat, which set off from the coast off the town of Zarzis, Faouzi Masmoudi, a judge in the city of Sfax, told Reuters.
The Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights, a human rights group, said on Saturday that the number of dead and missing in boat sinkings has reached 608 and the coastguard had foiled attempts to board boats by about 33,000 people from Tunisia’s coasts.
Tunisia is under pressure from European countries to stop large numbers of people departing from its coasts. But President Kais Saied has said it will not act as a border guard.
(Reporting by Tarek Amara; Editing by Alison Williams and Alexander Smith)
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