Italian prosecutors have began investigations into the death of 26 Nigerian immigrants, mostly women who lost their lives while attempting to cross the Mediterranean sea into Europe. Most of the victims were between the age of 14-18 may have been sexually abused and murdered as they attempted to cross the sea. It was gathered that their bodies were currently in a Spanish warship, Cantabria, at the sea which is also carrying hundreds of other migrants, including other Nigerian survivors.
Twenty-three of the Nigerians were said to have been on a rubber boat with 64 other migrants prior to their deaths. Italian media report a total of 375 migrants rescued from the sea and currently in the warship are sub-Saharan Africans from Nigeria, Senegal, Ghana, The Gambia and Sudan. Among the survivors were 52 children and 90 women, eight of whom are said to be pregnant. Flavio Di Giacomo, IOM spokesman, had said then that the number made it 649 deaths recorded in the first 86 days of 2017.
The Italian aid group, L’Abbraccio, has reported that human-smuggling rings charge each migrant upward of US$6,000 to make the dangerous journey from their home countries to Italy. In July, European and African ministers convened to develop a method aimed at stemming the flow of refugees fleeing Africa into European ports and limit the number of undocumented immigrants to 20,000. Ministers discussed tougher deportation strategies as well as how to break up human-trafficking gangs.
The plan, supported by the U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR, argued that training exercises by the Libyan coastguard and the current procedures for the Italian NGO rescue ships operating in the Mediterranean are insufficient in deterring refugees. Instead, the meeting argued screening systems were needed for migrants coming from Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Chad and Sudan. Migration from Libya to Europe peaked after 2011, when the U.S. government toppled and murdered former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.