The Bodies of 26 Nigerian Girls Have Been Recovered From Migrant Boats

Violet Powell
November 8, 2017

The BBC also reports that their bodies were now in a Spanish warship - Cantabria - at the sea which is also carrying hundreds of other migrants, including other Nigerian survivors.

During another rescue operation, the bodies of three Nigerian women were recovered on an inflatable boat which had been transporting 139 migrants, Millman added.

Italian prosecutors have commenced investigations into the deaths of 26 Nigerian women whose bodies were recovered at sea, BBC reported on Monday.

Their remains were brought ashore in Salerno, Italy; Salvatore Malfi, the police prefect there, tells NPR they appear to have drowned, but the bodies will be autopsied Tuesday to determine cause of death as well as whether the girls had been sexually abused.

A Spanish vessel found the girls' bodies in the Mediterranean, lowering a "seemingly endless line of black plastic body bags" onto a port in Salerno, according to Agence France-Presse.

They can have poorer swimming skills compared to men and their attempts to save their children often lead to their drowning, as does the heavier clothing they wear, he said.

Sub-Saharan Africans hoping to flee poverty or war have taken advantage of Libya's power vacuum, which has allowed smugglers to operate mostly without restraint.

There were also some Libyan men and women on board.

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Migrants' desire to reach Italy, close to Libya, has made the North African country a centre for human smuggling.

From January to November of this year, some 111,552 migrants have arrived in Italy by sea, according to the International Organization for Migration, and 2,639 migrants have died along that route. The number who died on that route was 2,639, the IOM says.

A total of 154,609 migrants and refugees have entered Europe by sea this year, about 75 percent of whom used the Libya-Italy route, IOM said.

The others arrived in Greece, Cyprus or Spain.

Italian media report a total of 375 migrants rescued from the sea and now in the warship are sub-Saharan Africans from Nigeria, Senegal, Ghana, The Gambia and Sudan.

Malfi said investigators would look to see if the women had been assaulted.

The route from sub-Saharan Africa to Libya is also risky, especially for women.

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