Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Illegal Immigrants: Italian authorities take in stranded African migrants

Italian authorities escorted ashore more than 100 migrants on Monday who had been stranded for four days aboard a cargo ship in the Mediterranean Sea. The Turkish ship Pinar had been the subject of a standoff between Italy and Malta over who should take in the 140 African migrants.

Italian authorities finally agreed, for humanitarian reasons, to allow the migrants to land.

Some of them were in desperate condition. Lacking food and water, they appeared exhausted.

Doctor Salvatore Castellano was at the Sicilian port of Empedocle when the migrants arrived.

Doctor Castellano said the stress of the journey is the worst thing. Many migrants were dehydrated and in significant pain due to the long and cramped journey aboard the ship.

This ordeal left a pregnant woman dead and a number of others sick. Some were taken to the hospital, others for processing. Many are expected to request asylum.

Italy agreed to allow the migrants from the Turkish cargo ship to land after a dispute with Malta over who should receive them. Rome had initially said the migrants were Malta's responsibility. But the small island state insisted they had been rescued closer to Italy.

Italy's Interior Minister Roberto Maroni said his country would report Malta to the European Union for failing to intervene.

Maroni said Italy agreed to accept the migrants solely for humanitarian reasons because the situation on the ship was complicated. But, he added, he is drawing up a dossier on the matter that will be sent to the European Commission and that will show it should have been Malta's duty to rescue the migrants.

By: Published with the permission of Voice of America
Published by Mike Hitchen, Mike Hitchen Consulting
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