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Tunisian coastguards pull 13 bodies of migrants off Sfax

Migrants continue to die in scores in Tunisia. Few days after two bodies were found in the border area with Algeria, Tunisian coastguards recovered the bodies of 13 sub-Saharans off the city of Sfax, where clashes erupted between locals backed by the police and migrants last week.

Rights group deplored use of force by Tunisian authorities which have been relocating migrants forcibly to desert regions near the Libyan and Algerian border.

On July 12, “units affiliated with the Sfax maritime region thwarted an attempted illegal crossing and rescued 25 sub-Saharan migrants, but 13 bodies were also recovered,” the coastguard statement said.

Violent clashes erupted in the port city of Sfax, a major departing point for migrants, between Sub-Saharans and locals after a Tunisian was stabbed to death.

A crackdown ensued with authorities abandoning migrants in harsh conditions, rights groups said.

Between 100 and 150 migrants were still stranded at the border with Libya near the militarized zone of Ras Jedir by Thursday evening, according to Human Rights Watch.

The Tunisian Red Crescent earlier said it has provided shelter to about 630 migrants stranded at the border with Libya between Sunday and Monday.

HRW said another group of about 200 migrants had been left to fend for themselves at Tunisia’s militarized border with Algeria, with rescue teams en route to help them.

Witnesses told AFP convoys had dropped off dozens of migrants in various areas along Tunisia’s 1,000-kilometre (600-mile) border with Algeria.

Clashes between Tunisians and migrants surged against the backdrop of xenophobic rhetoric against migrants espoused by the Tunisian president himself.

President Kais Saied has described the presence of African migrants in his country as a plot to replace the Tunisian population and alter the Arab identity of the country, triggering a wave of condemnations.

Source: The North Africa Post