The number of fatalities in the Mediterranean is proportional to the number of migrants attempting to reach Europe.
While European Union officials struggle to contain the exodus, the plight of those escaping poverty and persecution leaves a tragic mark on the coastline of Tunisia. The fisherman Oussama Dabbebi begins to gather in his nets as the sun rises over the horizon off the country's eastern coast. His visage is intently focused on its contents, as he does not always find fish.
"Instead of fish, I sometimes receive corpses. Initially, I was apprehensive, but I gradually grew accustomed to it. After a while, removing a corpse from my net is comparable to retrieving a fish."
Three days ago, the 30-year-old fisherman, dressed in a dark hooded sweatshirt and shorts, discovered the corpses of 15 migrants in his nets. Once, I discovered a baby's body. How can an infant be held accountable for anything? I was in tears. It is different for adults because they have lived. However, the infant did not perceive anything."
Since he was 10 years old, Mr. Dabbebi has fished in these waters near the second largest city in Tunisia, Sfax. In those days, he was one of many who cast their nets, but now he claims that the majority of fishermen have sold their vessels to people smugglers for enormous sums.
A short distance away, a group of South Sudanese migrants, whose country has been plagued by conflict, climate shock, and food insecurity since its independence in 2011, are leaving the port. Everyone hopes to reach the United Kingdom. One explains that they have regretfully abandoned a second attempt to cross to Italy due to overcrowding and deteriorating weather conditions.
According to the National Guard of Tunisia In the first three months of this year, 13,000 migrants were forcibly removed from their often overcrowded vessels near Sfax and returned to shore. The UN refugee agency reports that between January and April of this year, approximately 24,000 people escaped the Tunisian coast in improvised boats and made it to Italy.
The nation is now the primary departure point for migrants attempting to reach Europe. This dubious distinction was previously held by Libya, but violence against migrants and abductions by criminal organizations have led many to travel to Tunisia instead.
Although the vessel that capsized last week off the coast of Greece, leaving at least 78 people deceased and an estimated 500 missing, had departed from Libya. In the first two weeks of this year, over 200 corpses of migrants were recovered from the water here. Since 2014, more than 27,000 people have perished attempting to cross the Mediterranean.
This escalating catastrophe is causing significant problems for the city. Numerous deceased individuals are unidentified. Therefore, DNA tests are being organized and the results are being meticulously stored. The goal is to enable relatives seeking for loved ones to determine whether they are interred here by comparing their own DNA to the cemetery's.
All have heard of the deaths of so many migrants attempting to reach Europe, but a young man from Guinea revealed that desperation continues to trump peril. Tragically, this fundamental human aspiration for a better existence frequently comes at a high cost.