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Migrant crisis: Tunisia's jobless open fresh smuggling route

Wednesday, October 18, 2017 - 01:25

Libya's crackdown on people trafficking into Europe has forced smugglers into a new course through Tunisian waters, with many migrants being unemployed Tunisians. Matthew Laratonda reports.

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It's nightfall over the Mediterranean. Primetime for smugglers from North Africa putting their human cargo on a treacherous journey north, toward Europe. Many don't make it. Most are coming through Libya, but crackdowns by authorities there are diverting some people traffickers onto a surprising new port: Libya's more stable neighbor, Tunisia. The route to Sicily from Tunisia is much shorter than from Libya, and the penalties for being caught by Tunisian authorities are also much lighter. And the trend is growing. An estimated 1,400 Tunisians arrived in Italy last month alone. That's more than the first eight months of the year combined. Also, most of the people on these boats are Tunisians themselves, unlike the Libyans, Sub-Saharan Africans, Syrians and South Asians found on routes further east. Their stories follow a familiar narrative, spurred by lack of opportunity at home. This man says he once lived in Italy. The surge from Tunisia happened once before. 20,000 fled the country in 2011 during the turmoil of the Arab Spring.

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Migrant crisis: Tunisia's jobless open fresh smuggling route

Wednesday, October 18, 2017 - 01:25