After family members pleaded with the authorities to locate them, the coast guard of Tunisia said on Monday that seventeen migrants from the country's north have gone missing one week after leaving a Mediterranean port city.
According to National Guard spokesperson Houssem Eddine Jebabli, "search operations continue to find 17 missing migrants who left the coast of Bizerte last Monday," as stated to the media.
Jebabli stated that all of the individuals in the group are Tunisian nationals, and that the group consists of at least one young person traveling with his father and one lady. Many irregular migrants from other countries, who attempt dangerous sea voyages in the hopes of attaining a better life in Europe, now mostly leave via Tunisia and its neighbor, Libya.
In a demonstration on Saturday in central Bizerte, the relatives of the 17 missing Tunisians demanded that the government locate their loved ones, as reported by local media. An official from the court in the coastal city of Monastir said on Thursday that the remains of thirteen Sudanese migrants who had left from Sfax, Tunisia, had lately been discovered. Twenty-seven additional migrants who had sailed with the migrants are unaccounted for.
The number of irregular migrants intercepted by Tunisian authorities during the first 11 months of 2023 was 69,963, more than twice as high as during the same time in 2022, according to the National Guard. The United Nations' International Organization for Migration estimates that 2,498 persons lost their lives or vanished while trying to cross the central Mediterranean in 2023 a 75% rise from the year before.