The death toll from a migrant shipwreck off Tunisia on Friday has risen to 20, most of them Syrians, as they tried to cross the Mediterranean to Italy, a civil protection official said on Saturday, in the latest migrant ship disaster off Tunisia.
The official told Reuters news agency that coastguards recovered eight bodies on Saturday, after finding 12 on Friday. A search was still under way.
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Tunisia and neighbouring Libya are key departure points for migrants and refugees seeking to reach European shores.
Hundreds of thousands of people have made the perilous Mediterranean crossing in recent years, many of them fleeing conflict and poverty in Africa and the Middle East.
In late February, nine migrants and refugees from various African countries drowned after their boat capsized off the Tunisian coast while they were trying to reach Europe.
Earlier this month, the bodies of four African migrants and refugees were found in eastern Tunisia, with authorities saying they had probably died of cold or hunger after crossing the Algerian border.
The United Nations’ refugee agency UNHCR has said about 1,300 migrants and refugees drowned or went missing in 2021 on the Central Mediterranean route, making it the world’s deadliest migration pathway.
The International Organization for Migration estimates that more than 18,000 migrants and refugees have died or disappeared while attempting to make the trip since 2014.