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Number of Tunisian migrants landing in Italy rose fivefold in 2020

TUNIS (Reuters) - The number of Tunisian migrants landing on Italian shores soared fivefold to 13,000 in 2020, a rights group said on Tuesday, citing economic privations in Tunisia that fuel migration in boats across the Mediterranean.

Tunisia has come under strong pressure from European nations on opposite shores of the Mediterranean to stem the flow of migrants, especially after a deadly Islamist attack at a church in the French city of Nice by a Tunisian migrant last year.

The Tunisian Forum of Economic and Social Rights said that the number of illegal Tunisian migrants reaching Italy in 2019 was 2,654 in 2019, and 5,200 in 2018.

Human traffickers increasingly use the Tunisian Mediterranean towns of Sfax, Zarzis and Mahdia as launch pads for migrants heading by boat to Europe.‮ ‬

Tunisia is in the throes of economic and social crisis a decade after the fall of autocrat Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali to a popular uprising, which brought democracy to the North African country but also higher unemployment and inflation.

Reporting by Tarek Amara; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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