Coast guard rams boat with migrants bound for Italy: 3 children dead

Three children drowned after a Tunisian coast guard motorboat rammed a boat most likely headed for Italy. The news was given by Agi, who had access to some videos on the accident. The tragedy would have happened on Thursday 10 November off the coast of Chebba, a port city in Tunisia about 190 kilometers from Lampedusa, one of the departure points of most of the boats headed for our country.

According to the Agi, two boats with migrants on board were intercepted by two patrol boats of the Tunisian National Guard. One of the boats was blocked and the migrants were taken aboard the patrol boat. “The other boat, in an attempt to escape the blockade, was rammed by one of the vehicles of the Tunisian National Guard, according to what was told by a witness to the Agi, which came into possession of the videos concerning what happened”, writes the agency. From the images it is not clear the moment of impact but the consequences are clear. Some of the people fell into the sea amid the screams and desperation of those who had already been transhipped on the patrol boat: “Racists! Look, look, they are drowning, they drowned our brothers!” Shouted some migrants.

As a result of the impact, three children fell into the water and drowned, two of them were twins. Once we arrived at the port, “the witnesses tell of the great solidarity of the people on shore, who helped the survivors, giving them money and accompanying those in need to the hospital or public transport stops. No one was stopped by the authorities. Those who witnessed the scene are still in shock “, writes the Agi. One of the witnesses tells of the sense of shame and pain for the dead children: “The people at the port were upset, everyone helped as if in some way they wanted to apologize on behalf of our country”.

Funds from the EU and Italy to Tunisia

Tunisia receives tens of millions of euros from the European Union and Italy for cooperation programs on migration, which in fact translate into funding for the operation of the Tunisian coast guard, the same accused of having rammed the boat in Chebba. Between 2017 and 2020, Tunis should have received from the EU about 91 million euros under theEu trust fund. The activities financed include the fight against traffickers, border management and the forced repatriation of migrants from Europe. Not all these resources have been spent due to Covid, but with the resumption of flows from Tunisia, the EU would be defining a new plan to ensure the continuity of the program. Italy did the same: the latest memorandum of understanding with Tunisia provides for an allocation of 200 million euros for the period 2021-2023, of which 11 million for cooperation on migration.

According to Forum Tunisian for economic and social rights, in 2022 alone there would be more than 500 migrants who died at sea who would have left Tunisia. Between September and October, at least two boats were wrecked off the coast of Chebba, with dozens of victims. Over 16 thousand Tunisians arrived on our shores since the beginning of the year. But to them must also be added all those migrants of other nationalities who have chosen Tunisian smugglers to attempt the crossing of the central Mediterranean.

Coast guard rams boat with migrants bound for Italy: 3 children dead