More than 13,000 clandestine Tunisian migrants have reached Italy by sea since the start of the year, almost a fifth of them minors, a Tunisian rights group said on Tuesday. The Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights (FTDES) said more than 500 clandestine migrants have also perished or gone missing off the Tunisian coast over the same period. It added that some 2,635 minors — around half of them unaccompanied — and 624 women were among the Tunisians who reached Italy. “The migration crisis continues despite the silence of institutions and ministries, and the presidency of the republic is responsible,” FTDES spokesperson Romdhane Ben Amor told journalists in Tunis. People fleeing violence and poverty across Africa and beyond have long used Tunisia, just 125 kilometres (80 miles) from the Italian island of Lampedusa, as a launchpad for maritime bids to reach Europe. But as a long-running economic crisis grinds more people into poverty, growing numbers of Tunisians themselves are making such attempts. This year’s figure of 13,742 Tunisians reaching Italian shores is up by 11 percent on the same period last year, the FTDES said. Migration attempts tend to surge in the summer months, and this year June was the peak month with over 1,400 arrivals. Also on Tuesday, the Tunisian coast guard said it had thwarted 34 migration attempts and “rescued” 554 migrants the previous night.