In the first half of this year, 789 bodies of migrants heading to Europe, including 102 Tunisian nationals, were recovered from the sea by Tunisian authorities, Husameddin Jezebabli, a spokesman for the country’s coastguard, said on Thursday.
The number of people rescued by the Coast Guard in the January to July period was four times higher than last year: 34,290 migrants were rescued by the Coast Guard this year, compared to 9,217 last year. The majority of the migrants continue to come from Sub-Saharan Africa, with 30,587 foreign nationals rescued, up from 6,597 last year.
The number of rescue operations has also reportedly doubled, with 1,310 carried out up to July this year compared to 607 last year.
According to Libyan reports, Tunisian authorities deported 1,200 illegal migrants, mostly from Sub-Saharan Africa, including several children and pregnant women. They were left stranded at the Tunisian-Libyan border without any assistance in July. The Libyan Interior Ministry said on Tuesday that five bodies had been found in a tent camp set up without authorization near the border with Tunisia.
The European Union and Tunisia recently agreed on a €105 million aid package for the Tunisian government to reinforce borders, continue rescue operations, and support the voluntary return of rescued migrants.