A boat carrying at least 13 Sudanese asylum seekers overturned off the coast of Tunisia.
27 people were still missing after their boat sank on Wednesday after leaving from Jebiniana, a town close to the Mediterranean port city of Sfax, according to a Tunisian judicial official on Thursday.
According to Farid Ben Jha, a court spokesperson in the coastal Tunisian city of Monastir, the boat was carrying 42 people, all of whom were Sudanese, and two of them were saved.
He said that an investigation was underway and that it was likely the asylum seekers were “exploited in a human trafficking case or in the formation of a criminal group to reach Europe illegally.”
All 42 of the passengers on the boat were refugees from war-torn Sudan who had applied for asylum with the UN agency.
According to UN agencies, half of Sudan’s population, or approximately 25 million people, require humanitarian aid and protection ten months after the conflict between the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) began.
Last week, a boat carrying 37 refugees and asylum seekers went missing off the coast of Sfax.