Tunisian security forces arrested dozens of people who tried to sneak into Port La Goulette on the outskirts of the capital with the intention of illegal immigration to the European coast.
Media reports in Tunisia on Sunday night talked about an “organised attack” by nearly 100 people carrying white weapons in an illegal immigration attempt using a ship anchored in the port.
However, the port manager Mohammed Omran denied in statements on Monday the occurrence of such attack and pointed to attempts to break through the fences of the port before the intervention of security forces to stop those involved.
“Between 30 and 40 people have indeed sneaked into the port and were arrested, while around 70 people were arrested outside the port,” Omran told Tunisian private radio station Jawhara FM.
Among those arrested, were children under the age of 10, according to the official.
Illegal migration through the port is a rampant phenomenon. Irregular immigrants stay around the port, waiting for an opportunity to cross its fences. They then sneak through the passage gates and then embark on board of ships heading towards European ports.
“Those involved in such attempts are being arrested on a daily basis,” Omran said.
The port manager attributed the large number of people during illegal immigration attempts at one time to their knowledge of the timing of ship trips to European ports.
Omran continued in his statement: “It is very difficult to succeed in such attempts. There have been very few successful attempts that have not exceeded one attempt per year.”
The Tunisian coastline is one of the main platforms for illegal immigration across the sea to the nearby Italian coasts in particular. However, the rise of a populist government in Italy and the tightening on the activities of non-governmental rescue organisations in the Mediterranean, have significantly reduced the number of illegal immigrants.