Record number of underage African migrants arrived in Italy last year

AP Photo/Bram Janssen
By Karolina Klaskova
2 Min Read

The number of migrants arriving on Italian shores from Tunisia last year reached a record level, quadrupling compared to the figures reported in 2017, the Tunisian Forum for Social and Economic Rights (FTDES) revealed on Wednesday.

Between 70 and 80 percent of migrants arriving from Tunisia originated from sub-Saharan Africa, fleeing political tensions and deteriorating economic prospects, according to the organization specializing in migration issues.

The number of minor refugees arriving in Italy in 2021 amounted to 2,731 people, including 2,076 unaccompanied young people. In 2017, 561 underage migrants arrived, while 544 were unaccompanied.

“It is a record number,” said FTDES spokesperson Romdhane Ben Amor during a press conference in Tunis as he presented the NGO’s annual report on illegal immigration.

FTDES did not give figures on the number of minors of Tunisian nationality who made these illegal trips.

Nearly 1,300 migrants were reported missing

A total of 15,671 migrants, including 584 women, managed to reach Italian soil from the Tunisian coasts in 2021, compared to 12,883 (including 353 women) in 2020. In 2017, 6,151 migrants had arrived (including 135 women), according to the report.

The Tunisian coastguard detained 25,657 migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean in 2021, almost double compared to the 13,466 cases in the previous year.

According to official Italian data, more than 55,000 migrants landed in Italy in 2021, mainly from the Tunisian and Libyan coasts, compared to just under 30,000 in 2020.

Statistics from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) indicate that nearly 1,300 migrants were either reported missing or confirmed to have drowned in the Mediterranean in 2021.

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