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Tunisian Navy Rescues Dozens of Migrants in Leaking Boat

FILE - Migrants look out from the deck of the Spanish NGO ProActiva Open Arms vessel as they wait to reach the Italian coast a day after being rescued off the Libyan coast, Sept. 7, 2017. While the number of Europe-bound migrants rescued on the main Mediterranean Sea route has dropped off dramatically this summer, hundreds are still risking their lives.

Tunisia’s navy rescued 78 migrants including two girls after their vessel en route to Europe took on water off the coast of Chebba and was stranded for three days, the defense ministry said Friday.

Human traffickers increasingly use Tunisia as a launch pad for migrants heading for Europe after Libya’s coast guard aided by armed groups tightened its controls.

“Naval forces rescued 78 illegal Tunisian migrants 70 kilometers east of the coast of Chebba on board a boat that was damaged and leaking water,” the ministry said in statement, adding that nobody died in the incident.

Tunisia has been praised for its democratic progress after a 2011 uprising against autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, but successive governments have failed to create jobs for young people, some of whom head to Europe to seek work.