Tunisia stopped about 6,000 migrants leaving its coast for Europe in the first five months of the year – a sharp increase from the few hundred prevented in the same period last year, an interior ministry official said on Wednesday.
Human traffickers have increasingly moved operations to Tunisia since a crackdown by the coastguard in neighboring Libya.
Scores of migrants died when the boat carrying them sank on Sunday in the worst such incident off Tunisia’s coast. The official said the death toll has now risen to 68.
“Since January 1 to the end of May 2018 we arrested about 6,000 migrants at our coasts compared to just a few hundred arrested in the same period last year,” the official said, asking not to be named.