An eight-month-old baby and one other person have died after a migrant boat capsized off the coast of Gabes, Tunisia. State radio reported that 13 people were rescued, while the search is still ongoing for missing migrants. The coastguard stated that the vessel, carrying 20 Tunisians, sank at 2am, approximately 120 meters from the beach in Gabes. “Two bodies have been recovered, one of a 20-year-old man and the other of an infant,” the statement read. An investigation has been launched to determine the circumstances surrounding the tragedy by Gabes authorities.
According to the International Organization for Migration, over 1,800 people have died this year while attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea in search of reaching Europe. Tunisia has become a significant landing point for migrants and refugees attempting the treacherous journey, which is known as the deadliest route in the world. The coastal city of Sfax, located about 80 miles from the Italian island of Lampedusa, has witnessed a recent surge in migrant crossings, including a shipwreck on Wednesday that resulted in the deaths of 41 people. Four survivors from that incident were taken to the Sicilian island after their metal boat capsized in rough seas.
In addition to the tragedy in Tunisia, at least six people lost their lives in the English Channel after a small boat capsized on Saturday morning. French and British authorities conducted a joint operation to rescue dozens of people after receiving reports of a boat in distress. The search is ongoing, with two migrants still believed to be missing, and multiple boats and merchant vessels participating in the rescue efforts. Survivors of the shipwreck have reported that at least 65 people were on the boat that sank, with about 58 people being rescued from the waters. Sadly, six people, including one who was airlifted to the hospital, were recovered in critical condition but were later pronounced dead.
As for the English Channel incident, at least 22 people were taken to Dover by UK crews, while 36 were brought to the port of Calais on a French boat, according to France’s maritime prefecture of the Channel and the North Sea. Suella Braverman, the Home Secretary, expressed her condolences, stating that her thoughts and prayers are with those affected by the tragic loss of life in the Channel.
These incidents highlight the continued dangers faced by migrants and refugees seeking a better and safer life. The sheer number of fatalities this year alone is a grim reminder of the risks involved in undertaking these journeys. It calls for urgent international cooperation and efforts to address the root causes driving people to take such perilous routes and provide safer alternatives for those seeking refuge and opportunities.