World Bulletin / News Desk
Tunisian naval forces have rescued 80 African refugees off the country's southeastern coast, an aid worker said Friday.
"Naval forces rescued 80 refugees whose boat broke down while en route to Europe," Monji Selim, head of the Tunisian Red Crescent in the southern Madnin province, told The Anadolu Agency.
The boat broke down near Tunisia's coastal town of Zarzis, Selim added, noting that the rescued migrants' nationalities had yet to be determined.
Tunisia is a transit hub for would-be immigrants hoping to cross into Europe illegally.
Last October, Tunisia's Interior Ministry said the country's security apparatus had managed to dismantle 412 illegal immigration networks over the past 17 years.
In 2014, roughly 219,000 migrants and asylum seekers crossed the Mediterranean Sea to Europe, resulting in some 3,500 lives being lost at sea.
Earlier this week, a boat carrying around 700 migrants – en route to Italy from Libya – capsized in the Mediterranean. Officials believe that most passengers on board drowned.
The incident came only days after a double-decked boat with around 550 people on board overturned about 120km south of Italy's Lampedusa Island, leading to the death of some 400 migrants.
If the latest death toll is confirmed, the number of deaths by drowning in the waters between Libya and Italy will surpass 1,500 this year alone, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
IOM Director-General William Lacy Swing said the figure represented a tenfold increase compared to the same period last year.Last Mod: 25 Nisan 2015, 10:04