The Tunisian maritime authorities rescued 255 migrants during 17 attempts to emigrate to Italy on Friday night, the national guard announced in a statement on Sunday.
The rescue mission happened between the nights of 5 to 6 August. “170 of whom are from sub-Saharan Africa, the rest being Tunisians, according to the statement published on Facebook.
The 17 attempts foiled by the coast guard patrols had as their point of departure “the east coast of Tunisia” and as their destination, the Italian coast, according to the spokesman of the national guard Houcem Eddine Jebabli, quoted in the statement.
According to the official, an unspecified amount of foreign currency was seized by the authorities.
On Friday, the national guard had already arrested “in a preventive operation” five individuals who “were preparing to carry out an illegal immigration operation from the coast of the province of Sousse, in the east of the country,” Jebabli added.
In another statement on Sunday, the Tunisian navy announced the rescue the day before of 22 candidates for illegal emigration, all of the Tunisian nationality, including 9 children and 3 women. They were on a boat drifting 80 km from the island of Kuriat, opposite Monastir (centre-east).
On 18 July, the Tunisian coastguard announced that it had rescued 455 migrants – 289 from sub-Saharan Africa and the rest Tunisians – in several operations of the country’s northern, eastern and southern coasts.
In spring and summer, with the help of milder weather, the number of attempts by Tunisians and other sub-Saharan Africans to emigrate illegally to Europe tends to increase.
Italy is one of the main points of entry into Europe for migrants from North Africa, arriving mainly from Tunisia and Libya, two countries from which departures have begun to rise sharply again in the last two years.
Between 1 January and 22 July 2022, 34,000 people arrived by sea in Italy, compared with 25,500 in the same period of 2021 and 10,900 in 2020, according to the Italian Interior Ministry.