At least 57 migrants and refugees have been confirmed dead after drowning off the Tunisian coast while trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea, Tunisian authorities reported Tuesday. Local workers on a nearby oil rig managed to rescue 33 of the passengers on board the capsized boat, which set sail from neighboring Libya.
In a separate incident, Tunisian naval units on Monday pulled out an additional 113 Moroccan and sub-Saharan asylum seekers from the Mediterranean waters. Hundreds of Europe-bound migrants have drowned in recent months in similar crossing attempts, and over 20,000 have died or gone missing at sea trying to escape Africa since 2014.
The United Nations has designated the central Mediterranean route as the most perilous migration route in the world.
Those on the smugglers’ packed boats, usually departing from Libya, who escape drowning but are caught by the various coast guard militias, face inhumane imprisonment, UN agencies say, which includes beatings, rape and malnutrition.