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Tunisian coastguard rescues 48 migrants from sinking boat

Tunisian migrants aim to seek a better future in Europe [Stock image: Getty]

Date of publication: 18 February, 2018

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The Tunisian authorities rescued the migrants, who were among thousands each year to attempt the perilous journey from North Africa to Europe since the 2011 Arab uprisings.

Tunisia's coastguard rescued 48 nationals whose boat began sinking as they tried to reach Italy by sea, its interior ministry said on Saturday.

A patrol spotted the vessel on Friday night off Jebeniana, located 130 miles south of Tunis. 

The nine-metre ship "was sinking after taking on water".

The passengers were aged 16 to 40, and from the governorates of Medenine and Sfax.

Tunisians regularly try to cross the Mediterranean to seek a better future in Europe – more than 3,000 reached the Sicilian shores in 2017 alone.

Most who make the perilous journey to Europe are unemployed young men - Tunisia's youth unemployment rate is 35 per cent, according to the World Bank.

In October, a collision between a migrant boat and a Tunisian military ship left at least 44 dead, in what Prime Minister Youssef Chahed called a "national disaster".

In the last three years, at least 15,000 people have died trying to reach Europe's shores from North Africa.

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