Italy probes deaths of 26 Nigerian women from migrant boats
08 November, 2017, 00:32 | Author: Dustin Murphy
While the bodies of 26 Nigerian women were recovered from the Mediterranean Sea, five suspects in the southern port city of Salerno are also being questioned as investigators are suspicious that their involvement in the women's deaths was also preceded by sexual assault. "Loading women on to a boat is too risky for the traffickers, as they could risk losing all their "goods" - as they like to call them - in one fell swoop".
Bodies of 26 Nigerian women, largely comprising of teenagers have been recovered at sea.
Lorena Ciccotti, Salerno's head of police, told CNN that coroners would be investigating whether the girls had been tortured or sexually abused.
Three-quarters of the migrant children interviewed in a February UNICEF report said they had experienced violence, harassment or aggression at the hands of adults.
Of the 400 who were rescued, 90 were women and 52 were minors, including a week-old baby.
Sub-Saharan Africans hoping to flee poverty or war have taken advantage of Libya's power vacuum, which has allowed smugglers to operate mostly without restraint.
Despite the drop, traffickers are still sending migrant boats out into the Mediterranean: the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said Friday that more than 2,560 migrants had been saved over four days. Since the start of 2017, 2,839 migrants have died on the central Mediterranean route.
Nearly 75 per cent of those migrants - about 111,500 people - landed in Italy, and the rest reached the shores of Greece, Cyprus and Spain. 150,982 migrants have reached European shores, of which around 74% are Italian arrivals.
Since the collapse of Moammar Gaddafi's regime, the number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean from Libya has skyrocketed.
"It's a tragedy. The prosecutor's office will begin looking into it immediately", Salerno's prefect Salvatore Malfi said.
The latest search and rescue operation in the stretch of sea separating Libya and Italy highlights some of the brutal treatment that female refugees and migrants are subjected to.
The route from sub-Saharan Africa to Libya is also unsafe, especially for women.
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