After dozens of packed boats tried to cross the Mediterranean, at least 70 bodies were pulled from the water and 1,200 people were rescued.
After a frenzy of attempts to cross to Europe from Tunisia officials report that morgues are at capacity as the death toll continues to climb.
A tiny island in Italy was the destination of around 1,200 people after coastguards responded to 35 boats leaving from North Africa. The boats were crowded with desperate migrants trying to reach Europe.
Three of the boats got into difficulties, and 23 people are missing. Italian rescuers reported that around 20 boats were still in the sea as of Monday night.
The Italian coastguard shared a dramatic video showing people in the water as rescuers attempted to drag them onto a lifeboat.
Come on!” can be heard from a man. Come on! Come on! Come on! Give me your hands! As he tries reaching a young child holding a life ring.
One judicial official in the Tunisian coastal city of Sfax painted a grim picture of the local hospitals.
The morgues of Sfax hospitals are under severe pressure due to the large number of corpses from migrants. Faouzi Masmoudi stated that it was a danger to the public’s health.
He said that since Friday, the bodies of 70 Africans who died trying to cross the dangerous border have been found.
Tunisia is now the main departure point from Libya for those fleeing conflict and poverty in Africa and Middle East, in hopes of finding a better future in Europe.
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Even though Giorgia Mello , Italy’s far right-wing prime minister, has led a crackdown against smugglers.
Italian Interior Ministry figures show that by Monday morning, more than 36.600 people have arrived in Italy from the beginning of the year. This is more than four-times the number of arrivals for the same time period each of the previous two years.
Italy has rejected most asylum applications because they claim that the refugees are fleeing poverty and not war or persecution.
Since only a few countries have signed repatriation agreements with Italy, migrants who are denied asylum often remain in legal limbo for many years or attempt to reach northern European countries.
According to the United Nations’ High Commissioner for refugees, at least 570 people will be dead or gone missing in 2023 after trying to reach Europe through the Mediterranean region.