Tunisia recovers 29 bodies after migrant vessels capsize

Tunisia recovers 29 bodies after migrant vessels capsize
Deaths off the coast of Tunisia have spiked since Kais Saied's incendiary speech last month stirring up anti African migrants sentiment.
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The deadly crossing from Tunisia to Europe is often made in unseaworthy boats [Getty images]

The bodies of 29 migrants from sub-Saharan African countries have been recovered on Sunday after three vessels capsized, according to the Tunisian coastguard - the latest in a string of such tragedies.

A series of shipwrecks has left dozens of migrants dead and others missing in the country that serves as a key conduit for migrants seeking to reach nearby European shores.

It comes after President Kais Saied made an incendiary speech last month, accusing sub-Saharan Africans of representing a demographic threat and causing a crime wave in Tunisia.

The coastguard said in a statement Sunday that it had "rescued 11 illegal migrants of various African nationalities after their boats sank" off the central eastern coast, citing three separate sinkings.

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In one, a Tunisian fishing trawler recovered 19 bodies 58 kilometres (36 miles) off the coast after their boat capsized.

A coastguard patrol off the coastal city of Mahdiya also recovered eight bodies and "rescued" 11 other migrants after their boat sank as it headed towards Italy.

Fishing trawlers in Sfax meanwhile recovered two other bodies.

Black migrants in the country have faced a spike in violence since Saied's speech and hundreds have been living in the streets for weeks in increasingly desperate conditions.

People fleeing poverty and violence in Sudan's Darfur region, West Africa and other parts of the continent have for years used Tunisia as a springboard for often perilous attempts to reach safety and better lives in Europe.