Amid the political and economic crisis, more and more Tunisian migrants are traveling to Italy


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TUNIS, Sept 13 (Reuters) – The number of Tunisian migrants landing on Italian coasts rose 23 percent to 13,500 in the first eight months of 2022 from the same period last year, a rights group said on Tuesday, adding the Tunisia’s political and economic crisis added behind the exodus.

Videos posted on social media showed entire families boarding boats this summer amid a sharp surge in the number of departures from Tunisia’s shores as the country’s economic crisis deepened.

Ramadan Ben Omar, an official with the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights, said that 2,600 minors, 640 women and 500 Tunisian families arrived by boat on the Italian coast this year.

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He added that the number of people who drowned off the Tunisian coast this year stands at around 570.

Tunisia is in the midst of an economic and social crisis that threatens national bankruptcy, while inflation is at 8.6 percent, a three-decade high. Continue reading

“The poor economic situation is no longer the sole reason for the increase in illegal travel to Italy… There is also a stifling political crisis and a decline in freedoms, on top of social tensions and a loss of hope among Tunisians,” Ben Omar told Reuters.

Efforts to save the economy have been hampered by the political upheaval in Tunisia since President Kais Saied usurped most powers a year ago, closed parliament and seized power by decree, a move described by the opposition as a coup d’état became.

Saied said the steps were necessary to end the political paralysis and he enshrined his expanded role in a new constitution passed in a referendum in July with a low turnout of 30.5%.

Tunisian authorities have prevented more than 23,500 Tunisians from reaching Italian shores by thwarting about 1,800 crossings, Ben Omar said.

The Interior Ministry was initially unavailable to comment on claims that the country’s political and economic situation was fueling the increase in migration.

Human traffickers are increasingly using the Tunisian Mediterranean cities of Sfax, Zarzis and Mahdia as launch pads for migrants bound for Europe.

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Reporting by Tarek Amara, editing by William Maclean

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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