34 migrants missing after another boat sinks off Tunisia, as Italian PM pleads for support
34 migrants missing after another boat sinks off Tunisia, as Italian PM pleads for support

At least 34 migrants are missing after another boat sank off Tunisia. It's the fifth boat to sink in two days.  

Five people died when four boats capsized off the coast of Sfax on Wednesday and Thursday. Eighty four people were rescued but more than 30 are still missing. 

The Tunisian coastline has become a major departure point for people fleeing to Europe and the frequency of attempted crossings has increased significantly in recent months, in particular to Italy. 

Italy's Prime Minister is warning that the number of migrants arriving on European shores will continue to rise unless there is greater support for crisis-torn Tunisia. 


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Giorgia Meloni raised the issue at a meeting of European leaders. "Maybe not everyone is aware of the risks we are facing about the Tunisia situation and the need to support stability in a nation that has serious financial problems," she said.  

"If we do not address those problems in the right way, the situation risks unleashing a wave of migration which is objectively unprecedented." 

Tunisia has suffered over more than a decade of political and economic crisis, culminating in a July 2021 power grab by President Kais Saied in which he overturned the country's post revolution constitution and granted himself almost limitless power.  

The Tunisian foreign ministry denied last week that economic or social collapse was looming, calling the claims "overblown."  

As the country struggles amid mounting debt and rising prices, bailout talks with the International Monetary Fund have also stalled. A number of nations including the United States are demanding far-reaching reforms from President Saied before $1.9 bln in funds is released.   

Meloni wants to see an agreement reached in order to financially stabilize Tunisia.  

She also said she had held "very productive" talks with French President Emmanuel Macron about the situation in Tunisia and confirmed plans for a mission to the north African country involving the Italian and French foreign ministers, and the EU Home Affairs Commissioner. 


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