BY BOUAZZA BEN BOUAZZA
TUNIS, TUNISIA (AP) — The International Organization for Migration says up to 600 people attempting to reach Europe by sea from Tunisia and Libya have gone missing during the first three months of 2022, the highest figure since 2014.
In the latest tragedy, according to Tunisian authorities, a wooden boat carrying over 100 people capsized early Tuesday near the island of Kerkennah in southeastern Tunisia due to bad weather. The IOM said Wednesday that 30 people from that boat were rescued but 75 are still missing.
Tunisian navy and coast guard units continued to comb the area on Thursday where the tragedy occurred.
On Wednesday, dozens of migrants fell into the water as they struggled to cling to an upturned boat off the coast of Tunisia. Some 110 people were rescued by the non-governmental organization Open Arms.
Alice Sironi, head of migrant protection at the IOM, told The Associated Press that the central Mediterranean migration route, which runs between Libya and Tunisia across the sea, remains particularly deadly.
“In addition to our humanitarian role to take care of the survivors in terms of accommodation and food, we are committed to strengthening the capacities of the Tunisian authorities to come to the aid of boats in distress,” said Sironi.
According to Mourad Torki, a spokesperson for the courts of Sfax, the capital of the region, only one body has been recovered so far from Tuesday’s capsize, suggesting there is little hope of finding survivors.
“Generally, it takes several days for the corpses to be washed up by the sea,” Torki told the AP.