In recent days, Tunisian authorities have recovered the bodies of at least 16 migrants. On Monday, the Coast Guard said it had recovered the bodies of four migrants.
The bodies of four migrants were found by the Tunisian coastguard after their boat sank off Sfax in Tunisia, a coastguard official told the news agency. Reuters Monday (June 20).
It is not yet known if the boat carrying these four migrants was the one on which the Alarm Phone organization tweeted on Monday. According to Alarm Phone, a boat they thought left on Sunday evening had disappeared between Sfax and Lampedusa. It was also not reported how many people might have traveled on this boat.
12 decomposing bodies recovered at sea
Over the weekend, Tunisian authorities also recovered 12 bodies at sea. The bodies were already in a decomposed state, said the security official who spoke to Reuters. These bodies were found near the port city of Skhira, south of Sfax, in east-central Tunisia.
The bodies, reported the local Tunisian press, were not far from the beach of Skhira. Authorities said the bodies found were most likely sub-Saharan Africans who had likely tried to reach Italy from the Libyan coast.
Some fear more bodies could be washed ashore soon, after at least one migrant boat was reported to have sunk in the area recently.
As weather conditions have improved in the Mediterranean and the sea is several degrees warmer than usual for this time of year, more and more boats have started to leave. But many of these boats are unsuitable for covering the distance necessary to reach Italy or Malta.
Towards the end of May (May 20), the Tunisian authorities reported that at least three people had lost their lives and that a dozen people were missing not far from their coasts. A few days later, the bodies of 24 drowned migrants were discovered off Sfax.
The boats these migrants were sailing on are believed to have departed between April 22 and April 30 in four separate boats. 97 people aboard these dinghies were saved. The Tunisian navy often comes to the aid of boats that leave both from its own coasts and from those of neighboring Libya.
So far this year, according to the UN Migration Agency’s IOM Missing Migrants Project, at least 721 people have lost their lives trying to cross the central Mediterranean. Other organizations working in the area of migration estimate the figure to be even higher. Figures for missing migrants were last updated on June 18, 2022.