TUNISIA: The death toll after a boat carrying sub-Saharan migrants sank off Tunisia this week rose to 32 on Friday after another eight bodies were recovered, the coastguard said.

On Wednesday, the day after the sinking off the Tunisian port of Sfax, the authorities said 10 people had died. That toll was revised to 24 a day later, after another 14 bodies were found.

Also recovered on Thursday was the body of the boat’s Tunisian captain.

On Friday, the coastguard spokesman said search operations had located the bodies of a further eight drowned migrants, taking the toll of dead in the tragedy to 32.

Dozens of migrants, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa, have drowned off Tunisia in recent weeks, in desperate attempts to reach Europe.

The North African country’s coastguard said last week it had intercepted more than 14,000 migrants trying to reach Europe from January to March, upwards of five times the number of those who attempted the trip in the first quarter of 2022.

Tunisia, whose coastline is less than 150 kilometres (90 miles) from the Italian island of Lampedusa, has long been a favoured stepping stone for migrants attempting the perilous sea journey.

The number of departures intensified after President Kais Saied made a fiery speech on February 21 claiming that illegal immigration was a demographic threat to Tunisia.

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