At least 17 migrants drowned as a boat sank off Tunisia, the International Organisation for Migration said on Thursday, quoting two survivors who were rescued near an oil platform.
The IOM said the boat left on Tuesday from the port of Zwara in Libya, a key gateway for Europe-bound migrants mostly from sub-Saharan Africa.
Two women from Niger survived and were rescued by authorities off the Tunisian port of Sfax and taken to hospital, the IOM said.
It said more than 500 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean from the shores of North Africa to Italy and Malta since the start of 2021.
So far this year, about 13,000 migrants have landed in Italy, up from about 4,200 in the same period of 2020 and and 1,100 in 2019.
On Tuesday, Tunisian Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi said during a visit to Portugal that his country was opposed to setting up centres to take in migrants trying to cross to Europe.
Mr Mechichi said Tunisia, which is dealing with social and political crises, "is not ready at all to accept citizens of other countries".
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