26 teenagers found dead at sea
On Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017, 26 teenage girls were found dead in the Mediterranean Sea. The girls’ ages ranged from 14 to 18 years, and they are believed to have been migrants from Niger and Nigeria who took the route from Libya to Italy over the weekend.
Their bodies were recovered close to a “flimsy rubber dinghy,” or a small boat, that had already somewhat sunk when the rescuers arrived. The air workers described the disturbing scene as the survivors were hanging onto the weak boat as the deceased bodies floated nearby.
According to CNN, Lorena Ciccotti, the Salerno’s head of police, said that autopsies would take place on Tuesday and “that coroners would be investigating whether the girls had been tortured or sexually abused.” BBC reported that the girls’ bodies are currently being held in a refrigerated section of the Spanish warship Cantabria, according to Italian media reports.
During the rescue operations and recovery of bodies, about 375 individuals were brought onto the Cantabria before it stopped at the Italian port in the town of Salerno. In this 375-person group were 90 women, of which eight were pregnant, and 52 children; the rest were Libyan men. According to BBC, “Most of the 375 survivors brought to Salerno were sub-Saharan Africans, from Nigeria, Senegal, Ghana, The Gambia and Sudan.”
CNN reported that Libya is known for being the jumping-off point for migrants looking for refuge on the European shores. Those from sub-Saharan Africa are often running from war and persecution. Others in Africa are escaping impoverished nations. People in the Middle East and South Asia leave in order to search for better economic opportunities.