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Global News, Middle East

Migrant boat collapses near Tunisia, killing 120: survivor

Migrants drawning in the Mediteranean April 2015

 

A migrant vessel destined for Italy collapsed near the Tunisian shore on Thursday, killing dozens of passengers, according to the Tunisian Red Crescent.

The organisation, which has conducted many rescue missions, said the boat set sail from the Libyan coastal town of Zuwara. Around 120 passengers were reportedly on board.

Shamseddine Marzouq, a Red Crescent worker, told Anadolu Agency “One of the boat’s Nigerian passengers managed to swim ashore near Benguerdan’s al-Katef Port on Wednesday.”

The unnamed survivor claimed that all the boat’s passengers had drowned at sea after the vessel sank.

The reasons for it sinking are unclear, the organisation added.

Red Crescent workers have warned about scores of bodies washing up on Tunisian shores in coming days.

The bodies will be buried in the “’Strangers’ Cemetery”, in the city Zarzis, Marzouq added, where high numbers of dead migrants are buried.
“This cemetery now teems with the bodies of drowned migrants,” Marzouq lamented. “There’s no more room to bury them.”

Tunisian Red Crescent and fisherman set up a donation page to raise money to give honourable burials to migrants.

“This shipwreck is yet another tragedy in the Mediterranean, as thousands of migrants die or go missing each year. Safe passage for migrants would help prevent less deaths at sea,” Lucile Marbeau spokesperson for the ICRC regional delegation in France, said in an interview.

“Efforts must also be made to recover dead bodies and identify deceased migrants, in order to give answers to their families. They have the right to know what happened to their loved ones, and this is first and foremost the responsibility of the States,” she added.

Hundreds of migrants have died in recent years while attempting to cross the dangerous Mediterranean route from North Africa to southern Europe. Human trafficking and illegal migrant has become commonplace.

Amid European and Libyan pressure to curb migrant activity across the Mediterranean, many NGOs have recently been forced to end their humanitarian operations in the area, designed to save migrants’ lives.

A number of aid workers recently accused the EU of “wilfully letting people drown in the Mediterranean” due to restrictions on NGO activity.

Among those suspending their activities are Save the Children, Germany’s Sea Eye & Medecins san Frontieres (MSF).

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