Several migrants found dead off Tunisia’s coastal city of Sfax

Cairo, Mar.26, (dpa/GNA) – The Tunisian coastguard said they recovered the bodies of five migrants off the coast of Sfax in the Mediterranean Sea on Monday, which brings the number of bodies recovered in the last four days to 11.
Tunisian security forces have also prevented 3,058 migrants from travelling to Europe by boat since Friday. The majority of them are said to come from countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
On Monday, 633 people were prevented from travelling by boat from Tunisia to Europe. Security forces also reportedly arrested 120 smugglers and confiscated 46 boats.
The crossing to Europe is considered extremely dangerous. A 15-month-old girl is also believed to have died in a shipwreck off the Italian coast at the weekend.
According to the non-governmental organization Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights (FTDES), more than 1,300 migrants were killed off the coast of Tunisia last year while trying to cross over to Europe.
The European Union reached a controversial agreement with Tunisia last year, in which the North African country is to take stronger action against people smugglers and illegal crossings in exchange for millions in financial aid.
Recently, however, there have been doubts as to whether the agreement will last.
Compared to the previous year, the number of migrants crossing the central Mediterranean to Italy, mostly from Tunisia and Libya, has decreased.
The Ministry of the Interior in Rome said just under 9,500 people reached Italy by sea this year.
At the weekend, however, more than 1,700 migrants from Libya and Tunisia arrived by boat on the Italian Mediterranean island of Lampedusa.
Lampedusa, which lies between Sicily and Tunisia, has for years been a main destination for boat crossings due to its proximity to the African coast.