The Tunisian coast guard announced on Sunday that it had rescued 423 migrants in a single night off the country's coast and foiled 16 attempts to illegally immigrate by sea to Europe.
“During the night of February 18-19, Sea Guard units from the Center, North and South regions managed to thwart 16 crossing operations and rescue 423 people,” according to a statement from the Guard spokesperson.
They are 71 Tunisians and 352 nationals of sub-Saharan African countries, the statement said.
Tunisia, some portions of the coastline of which are less than 150 km from the Italian island of Lampedusa, very regularly records attempts to leave migrants for Italy.
According to official Italian figures, more than 32,000 migrants, including 18,000 Tunisians, arrived in Italy illegally from Tunisia in 2022.
The Tunisian Coast Guard said on Friday that illegal migration had "experienced a sharp increase" in the past week due to "improving weather conditions".