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Dozens of migrants killed in latest boat disaster off Tunisia

At least 29 migrants from sub-Saharan Africa died when their two boats sank off the coast of Tunisia as they tried to cross the Mediterranean to Italy, the Tunisian coast guard said on Sunday.

Tunisia has taken over from Libya as a main departure point for people fleeing poverty and conflict in Africa and the Middle East in the hope of a better life in Europe.

Houssem Jebabli, a senior official in the national guard told Reuters that the Tunisian coast guard had also rescued 11 people off the coast of Mahdia, further north.

The coast guard said it had stopped about 80 boats heading for Italy in the past four days and detained more than 3,000 migrants, mostly from sub-Saharan African countries.

The latest loss of life comes in the midst of a campaign of arrests by the Tunisian authorities of undocumented sub-Saharan Africans.

The Italian coast guard said on Thursday it had rescued about 750 migrants in two operations off the southern Italian coast.

Europe risks seeing a huge wave of migrants arriving on its shores from North Africa if financial stability in Tunisia is not safeguarded, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said on Friday. Meloni called on the IMF and some countries to help Tunisia quickly to avoid its collapse.

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