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: Four people from same family infected with coronavirus

Updated 3 min 56 sec ago

UAE: Four people from same family infected with coronavirus

  • Patients’ health stable and under medical observation
  • General health situation not a cause for concern, ministry says

DUBAI: The UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention confirmed Thursday that four members of the same Chinese family in the Gulf state have been infected with coronavirus.

The statement added that “all family members are in stable condition and the situation was contained by following the most necessary precautionary measures adopted globally when dealing with infected cases” in a circular released on social media.

The ministry assured the public about the general health situation, emphasizing that “it is not a cause for concern.”

“The first case of the coronavirus was diagnosed in Chinese citizens from Wuhan city,” said the ministry earlier said, adding that meanwhile the health condition of those infected was “stable and under medical observation.”

“The Ministry of Health and Prevention is working around the clock to immediately report any new cases.”

 

It also confirmed that, in coordination with health authorities, the UAE government had taken necessary precautions in accordance with the scientific recommendations, conditions and standards approved by the World Health Organization.

The ministry stressed that the epidemiological investigation centers in the country were working to report any cases of the virus, stressing that the health system in the country works very efficiently and that the ministry was closely following the situation in a way that guarantees the health and safety of everyone.

It is not clear when the family arrived in the UAE, or what airline or airport they came through.

But in a statement Emirates confirmed that all its passengers arriving from China, including flights from Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, were being screened by the Dubai health authorities.

“We are in close contact with all relevant UAE and Chinese regulatory authorities, and are complying with their directives and guidance. We are also closely monitoring and implementing the guidance of the World Health Organisation, which currently does not advise any restrictions on travel.

“Our crew members are highly trained and will follow standard operating procedures to manage any suspected cases on board. For more information on passenger screening, please contact the Ministry of Health.”