A rubber dinghy carrying 69 sub-Saharan migrants landed on Saturday on Lampedusa without having been intercepted. The migrants are believed to be Somali. At least one media report states that the migrants are believed to have departed from Tunisia. Several of the boat’s passengers were hospitalized. The main migrant detention centre on Lampedusa remains closed.
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There have been reports in recent days from the UNHCR and others about at least two boats that are believed to have left Libya over the past 10-14 days carrying persons from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, and possible other countries. Family members and friends of people who are believed to be on the boats have been calling for assistance in searching for the boats. Reuters reported that “[o]ne of the boats was reported to have left Libya on March 22 with 335 people on board. Italian media said 68 people on the other boat had almost certainly died during the journey, although there was no official confirmation. The top Vatican official in Tripoli, Bishop Giovanni Innocenzo Martinelli, said 10 bodies of African migrants were at the capital’s morgue on [4 April]. … He said there were reports of ‘many more bodies’ of migrants washed up on the shores of Garaboulli, some 40 km from Tripoli.” Father Mussie Zerai, who is based in Rome, “said he had last spoken to migrants on board the smaller boat, an inflatable, by satellite phone on 26 March before the line went dead. ‘I have meanwhile had no contact with the larger boat, but family members of those on board have called us from Canada, Sweden and Switzerland to tell us they left.’”
There have been confirmed deaths among migrants who have left Tunisia in recent weeks. At least 27 bodies had been recovered as of last week in Kerkennah. The dead were probably on board boats that sank on the 13th and 27th of March off the Tunisian coast.
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UPDATE: If you have information about a family member or friend who may be on a boat or if you are seeking information, please consider contacting the Agenzia Habeshia per la Cooperazione allo Sviluppo in Italy at this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org .
A boat carrying approximately 350 African migrants or asylum seekers from Libya has been intercepted and is being diverted to the Italian island of Linosa between Malta and Lampedusa. There have been reports over the past several days that the migrant boat was at sea. A Canadian navy ship, probably the frigate HMCS Charlottetown, first intercepted and boarded the migrant boat to determine whether the passengers required immediate rescue or not and to provide a pump. The migrant boat was allowed to proceed. An Italian navy helicopter later rescued a woman who gave birth on the boat. The woman, the newborn baby, the father, and a second pregnant woman were removed from the migrant boat and taken to hospitals on Lampedusa and Sicily. The Italian navy said that the migrant boat will be taken to Linosa rather than Lampedusa. UNHCR spokeswoman Laura Boldrini is quoted by AFP as saying that “[t]his is the first boat coming from Libya with people fleeing the military escalation, the vendettas and the retaliation attacks and that “the people on board the boat required ‘international protection’”. AFP also reported that “Mussie Zerai, an Eritrean Catholic priest in Italy who has been in direct contact with the vessel via a satellite phone, said conditions on the boat were extremely difficult with around 10 children and 20 women on board. He said the people were mostly Eritreans, Ethiopians and Somalians.” Zerai also “said four or five other boats carrying African migrants had … left Libyan shores carrying around 1,000 people.”