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Tunisia Refuses to Accommodate 75 Migrants Stranded at Sea for Several Days

Tunisia refuses to give the green light to the landing of a boat blocked off its coast with 75 migrants on board. According to the Tunisian Ministry of the Interior, migrants from Libya want to be welcomed by a European country.

An Egyptian boat that rescued ten migrants in international waters ten days ago is still stuck off Tunisia, as the authorities refuse to let them land, according to the Red Crescent. The Egyptian tug Maridive 601 , which serves oil rigs between Tunisia and Italy, arrived on May 31 off Zarzis, in southern Tunisia, after recovering the drifting migrants.

A team from the Red Crescent office in the city brought help and care to migrants on 9 June, some of whom are ill, according to Mongi Slim, president of this local Red Crescent branch. Contacted by AFP the same day, the captain of the ship refused to declare. 

He had six days ago appealed to the Tunisian authorities to allow his boat “to enter urgently” in the port of Zarzis. The Tunisian government has not given the green light for the landing of migrants.

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“Migrants want to be welcomed by a European country,” he said on condition of anonymity, an official at the Ministry of the Interior. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said in early June that migrants from Libya “urgently needed water, food, clothing, blankets and especially medical assistance”. According to IOM, this is 64 Bangladeshi, 9 Egyptian, one Moroccan and one Sudanese, including at least 32 children and unaccompanied minors.

The UN agency has announced that it is ready to help Tunisia to welcome these migrants from Libya in hopes of reaching Europe. This incident occurs in the Mediterranean, where the ships of the EU anti-smuggling operation “Sophia” have ceased to intervene while humanitarian ships face judicial and administrative blockages.

Last August, another commercial boat was stuck for more than two weeks at sea with the 40 illegal immigrants he had rescued. The Tunisian authorities then stressed that they accept these migrants exceptionally and for “humanitarian” reasons.

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