Migrants stranded at sea for three weeks face deportation

At least 75 migrants were rescued in the Mediterranean before being stranded for two weeks off Tunisia. (AFP)
Updated 20 June 2019

Migrants stranded at sea for three weeks face deportation

  • Vessel carrying 75 illegal refugees, including 32 children, remained stranded 25 km off Tunisia

TUNIS: Tunisia has allowed dozens of migrants, mostly from Bangladesh, to disembark after three weeks stranded in the Mediterranean, so that they can return to their home countries, the Red Crescent said on Wednesday.

An Egyptian boat rescued at least 75 migrants in Tunisian waters last month. But local authorities in the governorate of Medinine said its migrant centers were too overcrowded to let them ashore, leaving the vessel stranded 25 km off the coastal city of Zarzis.

“After they were stranded for three weeks at sea in difficult conditions, Tunisia agreed to dock the ship, and migrants accepted to return to their countries in coming days,” Red Crescent official Mongi Slim told Reuters.

After a visit by officials from Bangladesh Embassy, the migrants agreed to return home, according to Mongi Slim, a Red Crescent official.

Earlier, Red Crescent representatives welcomed to port 64 Bangladeshis, nine Egyptians, a Moroccan, a Sudanese citizen, who left Zuwara in Libya in late May.

The migrants, which include at least 32 children and unaccompanied minors, are to be transferred to a reception center in Sfax from where they are set to return home, Slim added.

Worried about creating a precedent, Tunisian authorities said they accepted the migrants as an exception and for “humanitarian” reasons.

“We thank Tunisia’s renewed commitment to life and dignity,” said Lorena Lando, the head of the International Organization for Migration in Tunisia.

She added that it is urgent to put in place a collaborative approach to helping migrants in the Mediterranean.

Neighboring Libya’s west coast is a frequent departure point for African migrants hoping to reach Europe by paying human traffickers. But their numbers have dropped after an Italian-led effort to disrupt smuggling networks and support the Libyan coast guard.

At least 65 migrants drowned last month when their boat capsized off Tunisia after setting out from Libya.

In the first four months of 2019, 164 people are known to have died on the route, a smaller number but a higher death rate than in previous years, with one dying for every three who reach European shores, the UN refugee agency UNHCR said.

UAE announces 626 new COVID-19 cases, a drop from previous day

Updated 3 min 35 sec ago

UAE announces 626 new COVID-19 cases, a drop from previous day

  • Dubai Economy issued 18 fines, 12 warning to businesses
  • Kuwait records 437 cases and 4 deaths, Oman reports 607 cases and 12 deaths

DUBAI: The UAE on Monday recorded 626 new COVID-19 cases, a drop from 851 the previous day, and one death.
The Ministry of Health and Prevention said the total number of infected cases since the pandemic began has reached 92,095, while the total deaths reached 413.
Some 918 cases recovered from COVID-19 over the previous 24 hours, bringing the total to 81,462 cases.
Meanwhile, Dubai Economy said it issued fines to 18 commercial establishments and gave warnings to 12 shops for not adhering to anti-COVID-19 measures, while 725 businesses were found to be compliant.
These included shops selling perfumes and electronics in various shopping centers around Dubai, as well as two gyms that were fined in cooperation with Dubai Sports Council.
Inspection teams have been carrying out daily tours to ensure that shopping centers, open markets and commercial businesses are complying with the government’s preventative measures.
Dubai Municipality also closed two salons for failing to comply with the precautionary measures, fined 58 institutions, and issued 70 warnings during inspection visits.
Elsewhere, Kuwait reported 437 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 103,981, while the death toll reached 605 after four new deaths were registered.
Oman recorded 607 new COVID-19 cases and 12 deaths, bringing total numbers to 98,057 and 924 respectively.