News / Africa

    Some Tunisians Continue to Risk Their Lives to Get to Europe

    Tunisian man shows a photograph of his relative, who died while trying to reach Italy illegally, at coastal town Zarzis in southeastern Tunisia, February 18, 2011
    Tunisian man shows a photograph of his relative, who died while trying to reach Italy illegally, at coastal town Zarzis in southeastern Tunisia, February 18, 2011

    Thousands of Tunisians have tried crossing the Mediterranean to Europe since a January uprising toppled dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Now Europe is braced for a new tide of would-be immigrants - fleeing the chaos in Libya. For VOA, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how immigration has brought hope - and loss - to the residents of the Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis.

    The sea is an essential part of life for the 140,000 residents of Zarzis, located in southeastern Tunisia not far from the Libyan border. Many of the residents here depend on fishing and on the European tourists who flock to beachside resorts.

    But for Hana Zair and her family, the sea has brought tragedy. Hana's brother Mohammed and her nephew Aballah were among thousands of Tunisians who boarded rickety boats this month to cross the Mediterranean for a better life in Europe. They paid the equivalent of $1,400 for the journey - an enormous sum here.

    "He's lost in the sea, and I don't have any information about him," Zair said. "And also the son of my sister Mounir. He was also with him."

    The family claims Tunisia's coast guard deliberately rammed into the boat the young men were on. Some of those on board were saved, they said. Five people drowned. Dozens of others are missing, including the two young men. Their accusations could not be independently confirmed.

    There are questions about why these youths would want to leave their country weeks after a popular uprising toppled Tunisia's longtime president Zine el Abidine Ben Ali. Many here are hopeful the revolt will usher in true democracy.

    Resident Walid Fellah has filmed the story of these young men lost at sea for his website Zarzis TV.

    Fellah says lots of Zarzis residents now work in France. They come back in the summer with cars and luxuries many here don't have. Zarzis youth are searching for the opportunities they can't find in Tunisia.

    The economy around here is based on agriculture, tourism and fishing. All have been struggling recently. Hana Zair's brother worked for a hotel.

    "He go to search for better life. Because Tunisia is jobless," she said. "Because tourism isn't good here because of the revolution."

    Fisherman Joar Goubba was on the same boat that sunk on its way to the Italian island of Lampedusa. He survived.

    Goubba says if he has another chance, he will try to go again. He is the breadwinner for his family of nine.

    Roughly 5,000 Tunisians have arrived in Lampedusa this month alone, prompting Italy to seek European help to patrol the Mediterranean. In Zarzis, the drownings have prompted a lull in departures. But maybe not for long.

    Now Europe is braced for another possible mass influx of immigrants. Libyans escaping the uprising in their home country. But the most immediate fallout is being felt here in Zarzis. The town is sheltering thousands of Egyptians who have fled across the Libyan border, about 65 kilometers away.

    Residents of Zarzis are rolling out the welcome mat some youth hope to experience someday - in Europe, if they ever get there.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora