Tunisia allows rescued migrants to dock after a two week wait
Reports on 28 July confirmed that Tunisia would take in 40 migrants who had been stranded at sea for two weeks after being rescued by a commercial vessel.
Tunisia is accepting the migrants “for humanitarian reasons,” the country’s Prime Minister Youssef Chahed said.
After being refused authorisation to dock by the Maltese, French, Italian and Tunisian authorities, the migrants remained stranded for two weeks on the Tunisian gas tanker Sarost 5, off the port of Zarzis, in southern Tunisia. The offshore supply ship rescued the 40 migrants on 15 July after receiving a call for help from another ship, the “Caroline Tide III.”
According to the Associated Press, Prime Minister Chahed has said that he does not want his country’s acceptance of the migrants to be interpreted by the European Union (EU) as a willingness to open screening centres in his country.
EU countries have been discussing the idea of setting up screening centres in North Africa to discourage migrants from embarking on the dangerous journeys across the Mediterranean.
“The first rescue intervention was in Maltese waters and there was a controversy over which country could take in the migrants,” the prime minister said.
“Despite this delay in making this decision we are happy and relieved,” the captain of the Sarost 5, Ali Hajji, told news agency AFP, after Tunisia announced its decision to let the rescued migrants dock.
The migrants will likely be transferred to migrant facilities in Medenine, the largest city in southwest Tunisia, where over 246 people are already being held.
According to the Tunisian Red Cross, the group of 40 rescued migrants reportedly came from Egypt, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Senegal, Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone.
TMP – 16/08/2018
Photo credit: IOM