The Tunisian defense ministry said 487 migrants, including 93 children, were rescued off the coast of the North African country as they attempted to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe in an overloaded boat
TUNIS, Tunisia – The Tunisian defense ministry said 487 migrants, including 93 children, were rescued off the North African coast on Friday as they attempted to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe in an overloaded boat .
The ministry said in a statement that the ship had departed from neighboring Libya carrying migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
The rescue operation was carried out by a Tunisian patrol boat and ships of the country’s navy and national guard near the island of Kerkennah, off the city of Sfax.
Among the migrants were 162 Egyptians, 104 Bangladeshis, 81 Syrians, 78 Moroccans and others from Pakistan, the Palestinian territories and several countries in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the ministry’s statement.
This year alone, United Nations officials estimate 1,600 people have died or gone missing in the Mediterranean, the main gateway to Europe for migrants attempting to enter the continent with the help of smugglers.
The busiest and deadliest migration route to Europe is the central Mediterranean, where people travel in crowded boats from Libya and Tunisia – and in some cases from Turkey – to Italy. About 60,000 people have arrived in Italy by sea this year, and some 1,200 have died or disappeared during the trip, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
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