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Tunisia Stops Sea Bid


FILE - A group thought to be migrants from Tunisia on board a precarious wooden boat waits to be assisted by a team of the Spanish NGO Open Arms, around 20 miles southwest from the Italian island of Lampedusa. Taken 7.29.2021

Tunisia said Tuesday it had foiled several attempts by almost 100 migrants to reach Europe via the Mediterranean Sea since the previous day.

Tunisia's National Guard said it had prevented five maritime crossings and rescued 80 people, mostly Tunisians and including 35 migrants from sub-Saharan Africa.

It said "preventive operations" were also carried out near Menzel Temime in the north, Mahdia and Kerkennah on the central coast and Zarzis in the south, leading to 11 arrests.

The National Guard said it had seized "a sum of money" without specifying the amount, and an inflatable boat in these operations.

On Monday, maritime and military authorities said 657 people were rescued or prevented from trying to cross in 46 separate incidents between Friday and Monday.

The defense ministry told AFP that 42 Egyptians who had set sail from Libya were rescued Sunday off Kerkennah, after their boat sank and they took refuge on an oil platform.

Tunisia and Libya are the main points of departure for migrants trying to reach Europe from Africa. Sea crossing attempts tend to increase during spring and summer.

The two countries are also the gateway for sub-Saharan Africans hoping for a better life by escaping impoverished and strife-torn countries such as Sudan.

The EU's Frontex border agency says the central Mediterranean route was used by more than 42,500 migrants between January and July, up 44 percent compared with the first seven months of 2021.

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