48 Migrants Rescued at Sea

A dinghy carrying refugees and migrants crosses the Aegean Sea from Turkey to the Greek island of Lesbos

Tunisia’s interior ministry said Saturday that the coastguard rescued a day earlier 48 Tunisian migrants whose boat began sinking as they tried to reach Italy by sea.

A patrol spotted the vessel on Friday night off Jebeniana, 210 kilometers south of Tunis, the ministry said.

The nine-meter craft “was sinking after taking on water”, it said in a statement.

The passengers were all Tunisians aged 16 to 40, from the governorates of Medenine and Sfax, it added.

Tunisians regularly try to cross the Mediterranean to seek a better future in Europe, but departures peaked last September.

According to NGOs, the uptick reflected frustration among young people hard hit by unemployment.

In October, a collision between a migrant boat and a Tunisian military ship left at least 44 dead, in what Prime Minister Youssef Chahed called a “national disaster”.