10 August 2014

Africa: Tunisia Coastguard Rescues 90 Illegals After Breakdown

Tunisian coastguards on Saturday intercepted 90 African migrants whose makeshift boat heading from Libya for the Italian island of Lampedusa broke down off Zarzis, the Red Crescent said.

"At 0500 GMT the Tunisian coastguard rescued 90 African illegal migrants from a makeshift vessel after it broke down off Zarzis" in southern Tunisia, Red Crescent official Mongi Slim told AFP.

The illegal migrants, who included four women and a child, two days ago left the Libyan port of Zwara some 60 kilometres (40 miles) from the border with Tunisia, bound for Italy.

Slim said those rescued were 31 Sudanese, 19 Somalis, 18 Eritreans, 10 Nigerians, 6 Moroccans and 6 Chadians.

He said the 90 were now being cared for at Zarzis where they will be housed temporarily by UNHCR refugee agency pending a decision on their fate.

In early June, more than 200 African migrants trying to make an illegal crossing to Europe aboard a large fishing boat were also intercepted off Zarzis.

Rickety boats carrying would-be immigrants often depart from Tunisia and Libya for Lampedusa, an Italian island off the Tunisian coast.

Hundreds of people lost their lives off Lampedusa last October 2013, and in late February, the Tunisian navy had to rescue some 100 migrants whose boat started taking on water off Tunisia.

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