A Tunisian boat carrying around 40 African migrants has been denied to dock off the country’s coast. The Red Crescent confirmed that the migrants had been without aid for more than a week after authorities had refused to let them disembark there, arguing that Malta or Italy should accept the migrants. The Tunisian interior ministry did not want to comment.
Monji Slim, an official of the Tunisian Red Crescent, said that the boat was stuck 12 miles off the coast. “The African migrants at sea are in a bad condition after the vessel’s captain refused to receive aid to pressure the Tunisian authorities to receive them, but no solution has been reached after 11 days at sea.” It was not clear whether the migrants had originally set off before they were rescued by a Tunisian boat. The new Italian government has closed its ports and refused to accept charity ships operating in the Mediterranean, saying that the European Union needs to first agree on the burden sharing of accepting the many migrants that are saved from the sea each month. Most of them are plucked off the waters off the Libyan coast.
Italy has called this month for the creation of migrant centers to be opened in Africa to put an end to the tide of asylum-seekers fleeing towards Western Europe. Tunisia is against the proposal. At least 80 people died last month when a boat sank off the Tunisian coast, one of the worst accidents for the country in recent years. Moreover, the North African country is increasingly vulnerable to human trafficking as a launch pad for migrants heading to Europe after the Libyan coast guard had tightened the patrolling in the area.