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

Israelis Quietly Expand Enclave in Palestinian District of Jerusalem

Estimated 500 settlers, armed or protected by paramilitary police, live in Silwan among 50,000 Palestinians More

Video US, Iran Face Similar Challenges in Syrian Fight Against IS

Both Washington, Tehran back fighters battling Islamic State militants in Iraq -- but in Syria they support opposing sides in country’s civil war More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid