First Migrant Boats From Libya Arrive In Italy

By XiaoBing 2011-03-28 09

( – A boat laden with African migrants from Libya arrived in Italy on Sunday and three others were on their way, the first such vessels to reach Europe since the start of the crisis in Libya.
The boat, carrying 284 people, mostly Eritreans and Ethiopians, including 80 women and 12 children, left Tripoli in the night of Thursday to Friday.
The vessel, which was taking on water and suffering engine trouble, was intercepted by Italian coast guards and brought to the tiny outcrop of Linosa, humanitarian workers on the nearby island of Lampedusa told AFP.
An Ethiopian woman gave birth on the boat on Saturday and was rescued with her newborn baby while still at sea by an Italian military helicopter.
A second pregnant woman was also evacuated but suffered a miscarriage.
The migrants were then put on board a ferry bound for Porto Empedocle in Sicily and are then due to be transferred to a refugee center.
Two other boats from Libya with an estimated 500 African migrants on board are also arriving in Italy, coast guards and humanitarian workers said.
The ANSA news agency reported that a fourth boat had also left from Libya and was heading for Lampedusa with around 300 people on board, mostly from Somalia and Eritrea. The report cited people from the vessel itself.
Mussie Zerai, an Eritrean Catholic priest in Italy who has been in contact with many the migrants via satellite phone, told AFP on Saturday that a total of around 1,000 people were on their way from Libya to Italy in several boats.
“Hundreds of lives of refugees fleeing Libya have been saved,” Zerai said in a statement on the website of his immigration campaign group Habeshia.
But he added: “We know there are still many others trapped in Libya.”
“We appeal to the solidarity of the European Union at this dramatic time… to welcome the Eritrean, Ethiopian and Somalian refugees,” he said.
Italy and Libya signed a friendship treaty in 2008 which Italian authorities say led to a 94% decrease in illegal immigration to Italy, but was heavily criticized by human rights groups for the treatment of migrants.
The Italian government has suspended the treaty and warns it now fears hundreds of thousands of migrants could depart for Italy if Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s regime falls. Italy has requested increased assistance from the European Union.
Gadhafi himself has threatened to send “millions” of migrants to Europe.
“Until now the only migrants to arrive in Lampedusa were Tunisians,” Laura Boldrini a spokeswoman for the UN refugee agency UNHCR in Italy, said earlier.
“This is the first boat coming from Libya with people fleeing the military escalation, the vendettas and the retaliation attacks,” she said.
She said the people from the boat required “international protection.”

Source :

Short URL:

Posted by on Mar 29 2011 Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Leave a Reply

Photo Gallery

Log in |2011