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26 Teenage Girls Found Dead in Mediterranean

26 Teenage Girls Found Dead in Mediterranean

Migrants disembark from the Spanish ship 'Cantabria' in the harbor of Salerno, Italy on Nov. 5, 2017.  (Manzo/NurPhoto/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP)

By    |   Tuesday, 07 November 2017 12:22 PM

26 teenage girls were found dead in the Mediterranean Sea on Sunday, believed to be migrants from Niger and Nigeria who attempted to dangerous water route from Libya to Europe over the weekend, CNN reported.

Italian authorities found the rubber dinghy the girls were in had all but sunk when rescuers arrived, Lorena Ciccotti, Salerno head of police, told CNN. The girls appeared to be between the ages of 14 to 18.

The International Organization for Migration said on its website that 64 people were rescued on the boat, according to the testimony of survivors. The organization said about 50 migrants on the boat were still missing.

"This tragedy affects a group of people particularly at-risk," Federico Soda, director of the organization's coordination office for the Mediterranean, said in a statement. "It is very likely that these girls were, in fact, victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation. A recent IOM report has estimated that 80 percent of Nigerian girls arriving in Italy by sea may be victims of trafficking."

Aid workers said, according to CNN, that survivors clung to the remains of the dinghy while the bodies of the dead girls floated nearby. Ciccotti said autopsies would be performed on Tuesday where coroners would investigate whether the girls had been tortured or sexually abused, the broadcaster said.

The incident was part of four separate rescue operations in the Mediterranean this past weekend in which about 400 people were brought aboard the Spanish vessel Cantabria before disembarking at the Italian port town of Salerno, CNN said.

The International Organization for Migration said most of the migrants rescued on the Mediterranean recently have been West African nationals, but also include survivors from numerous nationalities, including Bangladeshis, Eritreans, Egyptians, Sudanese, Moroccans, Syrians and Libyans.

"We've observed an alarming, notable increase in the number of Nigerian women and girls arriving in Italy over the last three years, from 1,500 in 2014, to over 11,000 in 2016," Soda said in the IOM statement. "The most disturbing trend is that these women are younger and often under the age of 18."

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26 teenage girls were found dead in the Mediterranean Sea on Sunday, believed to be migrants from Niger and Nigeria who attempted to dangerous water route from Libya to Europe over the weekend.
teenage girls, dead, mediterranean
346
2017-22-07
Tuesday, 07 November 2017 12:22 PM
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