1,000 migrants land in Italy

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Geneva, May 13 (IANS/AKI) Around 1,000 migrants and refugees including from Syria and Iraq were due to arrive in Italy on Friday after being rescued in the southern Mediterranean, the UN said.

The people of various nationalities, including refugee families and unaccompanied children, were due to disembark at three Sicilian ports and one in Calabria, the UN refugee agency UNHCR said.

The migrants and refugees were rescued in operations coordinated by the European Union borders agency Frontex, said UNHCR.

In one operation, some 500 people were rescued off Sicily, southeast of Cape Passero from two fishing boats that had set sail several days earlier from Egypt, according to UNHCR.

Syrians and Iraqis were among passengers aboard the two fishing boats, the Italian coastguard said.

Italy on Thursday began the grisly task of raising a corpse-packed trawler from the seabed near Libya, a year after up to 800 migrants perished in the Mediterranean’s deadliest disaster since World War II.

Attempts would be made to identify the bodies inside the trawler from fingerprints, DNA samples and distinguishing body marks. The bodies would then be buried in Sicilian cemeteries.

So far this year, 187,920 refugees and migrants have arrived in Europe by sea, including 31,252 who reached Italy and 155,765 who reached Greece. A total of 1,361 people died or went missing.

Around 9,000 people are known to have lost their lives in the Mediterranean since the current migrant crisis erupted in mid-2013.

–IANS/AKI

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