Tunisia rescues 264 Bangladeshi migrants adrift in the Mediterranean Sea
Tunisian authorities on Thursday rescued 267 migrants, most of them Bangladeshis, who tried to sail from neighbouring Libya to Italy across the Mediterranean, reports AFP quoting the International Organization for Migration.
Of them 264 are Bangladeshis, reports Bangla daily Prothom Alo.
Tunisia's coastguard said the migrants, who also included three Egyptians, had been stranded at sea after their boat broke down, reports AFP.
The navy helped bring the migrants to shore at the Ben Guerdane port in southern Tunisia, near the border with Libya, and they were handed over to the IOM and the Red Crescent, the coastguard said according to AFP.
A total of 485 Bangladeshis including the 264 migrants bound for Europe were rescued from the sea in Tunisia in the last three months, said Bangladesh embassy in Libya.
According to Tunisia coastguards, the rescued migrants were handed over to the IOM and Red Crescent.
The migrants were placed in quarantine at a hotel on the Tunisian island of Djerba, the IOM said.
They would be kept in a detention centre after their quarantine period ends. After that, if anyone wants to return home would be sent back under arrangement of IOM.
Earlier on May 17, Tunisian coastguards and navy members rescued 68 among 81 Bangladeshis when they were going to Italy from Libya through the sea.
Of them, 13 are still missing.
According to IOM figures, more than 1,000 migrants hoping to reach Europe had set off from Libya and ended up in Tunisia since January, and the number of departures is rising.
There have been 11,000 departures from January to April 2021 from Libya, over 70 percent more than in the same period last year, according to UN refugee agency UNHCR.
The agency said the "deteriorating" conditions of migrants in Libya and Tunisia are pushing many to make the dangerous crossing from the North African coast to Europe.
Red Crescent official Mongi Slim said centers set up to house migrants in Tunisia are full.
According to the UN, at least 760 people have died making the Mediterranean crossing between January 1 and May 31, compared with 1,400 last year.