08. November 2017 · Kommentare deaktiviert für „26 Young Women From Nigeria Found Dead in Mediterranean Sea“ · Kategorien: Afrika, Italien, Libyen · Tags: ,

New York Times | 07.11.2017


ROME — The bodies of 26 young Nigerian women and girls were retrieved from the Mediterranean Sea over the weekend and taken to Italy, where officials said on Tuesday they were investigating how the women died.

“It is a tragedy for mankind,” said Salvatore Malfi, the prefect in the port city of Salerno, where the bodies arrived along with 400 migrants who were rescued in the central Mediterranean in recent days.

“I think prosecutors will start working soonest to evaluate whether it could be homicide,” he said in televised remarks, adding that autopsy results for the women could be released publicly in weeks.

The young women were estimated to be between the ages of 14 and 18, said Marco Rotunno, the communications officer for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Italy. Their bodies were found floating in the water by the Spanish Navy on Friday, and survivors on nearby rubber dinghies, which had partly capsized, told the authorities that they were Nigerian and had departed from Libya.

Since the corpses arrived in Salerno on Sunday, no one has stepped forward to claim them as family members, Mr. Rotunno said. He said 400 migrants also landed on the same day. “So there was not a chance to speak with all of them, but probably they were not relatives of these girls,” he said.

When such groups of young women and girls are alone, the probability is high that they are victims of sex trafficking rings, he said.

“For Nigerian girls, it is pretty standard, the issue of being trafficked,” he said. “It is a regional network, unfortunately. I have seen younger than 14, and they were alone and from Nigeria.”

The women were in dinghies that left Warshefana, an area outside Tripoli, Libya, late last week, and capsized in bad weather, Mr. Rotunno said, citing accounts later provided by the survivors.

“People at sea were trying to swim; most of them don’t know how to swim,” he said. “They have never done it.”

On Friday, the Spanish vessel Cantabria saved 64 people and recovered the bodies of 23 of the young Nigerian women from one of the boats, the International Organization for Migration said on Tuesday. About 50 people were still missing, it said.

“On the sunken vessel, there were several very young Nigerian girls,” the statement said.

In a separate operation, an Italian naval ship retrieved the bodies of three women from another inflatable boat that was transporting about 139 migrants, transferring them all to the Cantabria, the I.O.M. said. Eleven migrants from that boat are missing.

“This tragedy affects a group of people particularly at risk,” said Federico Soda, the director of the I.O.M. Coordination Office for the Mediterranean. “It is very likely that these girls were, in fact, victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation.”

He said the I.O.M. has estimated that 80 percent of Nigerian girls arriving in Italy by sea may be victims of trafficking.

Thousands of people have fled or been trafficked in the perilous routes across the Mediterranean Sea for Europe. The latest deaths bring the total number of deaths in the Mediterranean in 2017 to 2,925, compared with 4,305 during the same time last year.

“It is more difficult than ever to forecast the trend right now,” Mr. Soda said. “The number of departures from Libya has slowed in the last four months, but we are still seeing large numbers being rescued and brought to Italy in relatively short periods of time.”


The Guardian | 07.11.2017

Arrests in Italy as 26 Nigerian women and girls found dead

Two men charged with people trafficking and police investigate suspected murder after bodies recovered from shipwrecks

Two men have been arrested and charged in Italy as investigators look into the deaths of 26 Nigerian women and girls, who are suspected to have been murdered while attempting to cross the Mediterranean.

The bodies of the women were brought to the southern Italian port of Salerno by the Spanish ship Cantabria on Sunday, and prosecutors opened an investigation over suspicions that the women, some as young as 14, may have been abused and killed.

The bodies were recovered by Cantabria, which works as part of the EU’s Sophia anti-trafficking operation, from two separate shipwrecks – 23 from one and three from the other. Fifty-three people are believed to be missing.

The men arrested have been named as Al Mabrouc Wisam Harar, from Libya, and Egyptian Mohamed Ali Al Bouzid.

The pair are believed to have skippered one of the boats. They were identified by survivors who were among the 375 brought to Salerno by Cantabria.

The two men are accused of organising and trafficking at least 150 people on the two sunken boats, but prosecutors have not made a direct link between the two men and the women’s deaths, said Rosa Maria Falasca, chief of staff at Salerno’s prefecture.

Autopsies on the bodies should be completed over the next week.

The prefect of Salerno, Salvatore Malfi, told the Italian press that the women had been travelling alongside men and when the vessels sank, “unfortunately, the women suffered the worst of it”.

But in response to concerns that the women were being trafficked for the sex trade, he added: “Sex trafficking routes are different, with different dynamics used. Loading women on to a boat is too risky for the traffickers, as they could risk losing all of their ‘goods’ – as they like to call them – in one fell swoop.”

Marco Rotunno, an Italy spokesman for the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), said his colleagues were at the port in Salerno when the bodies were brought in.

“It was a very tough experience,” he said. “One lady from Nigeria lost all her three children.”

He added that 90% of migrant women arrive with bruises and other signs of violence.

“It’s very rare to find a woman who hasn’t been abused, only in exceptional cases, maybe when they are travelling with their husband. But also women travelling alone with their children have been abused.”

Most of the survivors were either Nigerian or from other sub-Saharan countries including Ghana, Sudan and Senegal.

The survivors were among over 2,560 migrants saved over four days. People still continue to attempt the crossing despite a pact between Italy and Libya to stem the flow, which led to a drop in arrivals by almost 70% since the summer, according to figures released last week by Italy’s interior ministry.

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