VIDEO: Failed migrants wait in Tunisia for next opportunity
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As European leaders hammered out a strategy to deal with the growing number of migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean, FRANCE 24 met survivors of one shipwreck waiting in Tunisia for another chance to get to Europe.
At one shelter in the southeastern coastal city of Medenine, FRANCE 24 met 140 migrants who had barely escaped with their lives after the rickety vessel taking them from lawless Libya was unable to continue its journey to Europe.
Peter, from Nigeria, told FRANCE 24 he was escaping homophobic discrimination at home: “I’m looking for a better life, where I can have freedom.”
Another Nigerian, Ayulea, said he had paid 2,500 euros for this failed crossing to Europe with his pregnant wife and two children. Now, he has no more money, but he and his family are still determined to continue the journey.
Mongi Slim, president of the regional Red Crescent, said he tried to talk the migrants out of making another attempt, but he expected they would try anyway.
“Other boats landed here. The migrants left illegally back to Libya, tried the cross again, and ended up back here,” he told FRANCE 24. “We fear the worst if the Brussels summit doesn't do something to stop this trade of migrants to Italy.”
At the port of Zarzis, fisherman Kamel said he had saved migrants from six shipwrecks in the last five years. He regularly sees the bodies of people who didn’t make it.
“Last year, I had to put a woman and a baby in the zodiac [dinghy]. They were dead,” he said. “We even find people on the shore, with no hands, no head, no feet.”
The town’s association of fishermen is looking for solutions but they expect to be called out to salvage the human wreckage from sinking ships again, and again.
In neighbouring Libya, 6000 more migrants are believed to be waiting for the next departing ships.