Tunisia: Pressure mounts on authorities to find shipwreck victims


Thousands of people demonstrated Tuesday in Zarzis, a city in southeastern Tunisia paralyzed by a general strike, to demand an intensification of the search for the bodies of Tunisian migrants who disappeared at sea a month ago, according to an AFP correspondent.

Officials and merchants in this coastal city of some 75,000 people observed a general strike at the call of a local union demanding an investigation into the shipwreck and procedures for the search and burial of the remains found.

Between 3,000 and 4,000 protesters, including the families of 12 missing migrants, gathered on the main avenue of Zarzis, according to observers.

Some held photos of the disappeared and banners denouncing a “state crime” and calling for the “truth” to be revealed.

A makeshift boat that left Zarzis with 18 Tunisian migrants on board disappeared during the night of September 20-21. Subsequently, eight bodies, including several Tunisians, were found on October 10 by fishermen.

Local authorities mistakenly buried four Tunisian migrants in a private cemetery, “The Garden of Africa”, usually reserved for the bodies of sub-Saharan migrants recovered in the region, angering the families.

Following their protests, President Kais Saied ordered the Justice Ministry on Monday to open an investigation “so that Tunisians know the whole truth and those responsible for these tragedies face the consequences of their negligence.”

From spring to autumn, due to favorable weather, the pace of migrant outflows from Tunisia and neighboring Libya to Italy speeds up, sometimes resulting in drowning.

Faced with migratory pressure, the Tunisian authorities struggle to intercept or rescue migrants due to lack of resources, they say.

The Tunisian League for Human Rights denounced “the inability of the authorities to mobilize the necessary means to carry out rescue and search operations quickly.

Tunisia is going through a serious political and economic crisis and now has four million poor people, out of a population of almost 12 million.


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