(Xinhua) -- The grief over the loss of his loved one
showed no signs of abating two months on as Rached Dermouli, 56,
tearfully recalled his young son’s tragic drowning on an illegal
migration trip to Europe across the Mediterranean Sea.
His 23-year-old son, Nader Dermouli,
was traveling from Kerkennah island in the eastern costal
province of Sfax to Lampedusa, the largest island among the
archipelagoes in the Mediterranean Sea administered by Italy’s
Sicily Province. The capsizal on Oct. 8 claimed at least 45
“My son couldn’t find a job after
graduating from high school. Nader learned some skills for
repairing cars and plans to run his own garage,” Dermouli
said, adding that his son tried many times to get bank loans
but all failed.
Tunisia has witnessed waves of strikes
this year, with young people, especially those from the
underdeveloped inland areas on the edge of the Sahara desert,
demonstrating for jobs and showing their dissatisfaction with
the government’s failure to deliver its promises.
Experts said that young Tunisian
people are gradually losing confidence in both their destiny and
the country’s future in the face of high unemployment rates,
soaring prices, uneven development and the great disparity
between the rich and the poor.
Nearly 8,000 Tunisian illegal
emigrants have successfully made their way to Italy so far this
year, according to a research report by Tunisian Forum for
Economic and Social Rights—known as FTDES for its French
abbreviation, a civil rights institution with an official
According to the report, the number of
illegal emigrants particularly skyrocketed in October 2017, 17
times the figure from the same period last year.
Some 40 percent of the illegal
emigrants want to go to Europe and nearly two thirds of them are
young people in their twenties, the report showed.
“My son Nader even wanted to give up
his Tunisian nationality,” Dermouli said.
One survivor of many of Dermouli Jr.’s
childhood friends who were also on board the sunken ship told
Xinhua that they got information from local informers via online
social networking sites. The 25-year-old asked for anonymity.
“Each person pays 3,500 dinars (1,424
U.S. dollars) for the ship trip,” he said, adding that they
set off at 2 o’clock in the morning to escape security
control and changed from a small trawler to a larger boat
and finally boarded the ship to Lampedusa.
“I remember there were nearly 95
people on the ship, very crowded. Suddenly, a naval vessel
hit us and our ship overturned and sunk,” the young man
According to the FTDES report, about
307 illegal migration operations have been intercepted since
January this year.
A 19-year-old who only gave his
pseudonym Aymen in an interview with Xinhua is a dealer of an
organization conducting illegal migration. “The timing for
departure depends on various factors, such as weather
conditions, the number of emigrants and police patrols,” the
Kerkennah native said.
Aymen said some emigrants had to stay
in Kerkennah for over 20 days waiting for a right opportunity.
“Fifty dinars (20 dollars) for a single night and 5 dinars (2
dollars) for one baguette,” he added.
According to Ayman, usually more than
10 people live in one bedroom, and there have been extreme cases
where 30 people are squeezed into one room.
Dermouli Jr.’s friend was fortunate
enough to have survived the dreadful trip. When future chances
to reach his dreamland in Europe come, he dares to take them.
“We want job, dignity and freedom.
I’ll try again,” he said.