domenica 17 aprile 2011

First migrant boat from Libya arrives in Italy

Sunday, March 27, 2011 LAMPEDUSA, Italy – Agence France-Presse A pregnant woman would-be immigrant arrives at the hospital in Lampedusa. A boat carrying almost 300 African migrants from Libya arrived in Italy on Sunday, the first such vessel to reach Europe since the start of the uprising against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. The boat carrying mostly Eritreans and Ethiopians, including 80 women and 12 children, had left Tripoli in the night between Thursday and Friday. The vessel, which was taking on water and having 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 while still at sea with her newborn baby 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 centre. A second boat from Libya with around 200 migrants on board was also on its way to Italian shores, coast guard officials said. The boat is also believed to be having engine trouble and is around 60 miles from the coast. Mussie Zerai, an Eritrean Catholic priest in Italy who has been in contact with the migrants via satellite phone, told AFP earlier that four or five boats from Libya were on their way to Italy with some 1,000 people on board. Italy and Libya signed a friendship treaty in 2008 which Italian authorities say led to a 94-percent 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 Gadhafi's regime falls. Italy has requested increased assistance from the European Union. Gadhafi himself has threatened to send "millions" of migrants to Europe.

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