Found Dead in the Mediterranean Sea

A boat carrying migrants in the Mediterranean

"A recent IOM report has estimated that 80 per cent of Nigerian girls arriving in Italy by sea may be victims of trafficking".

"They were on a dinghy that was also carrying men", he told reporters who asked whether the women were on a sex-trafficking boat.

Over the weekend, 26 teenage girls - aged 14-18 - were found dead in the Mediterranean Sea.

There is no immediate explanation for why all the dead were teenaged girls, but Italian police will be carrying out autopsies on the bodies Tuesday to determine if they were tortured or sexually abused, CNN reported.

Libya is notorious for human traffickers, and this particular port in Salerno and the route to Europe is well-known to authorities, who are struggling to keep up with the spiraling numbers of smugglers. Twenty-three of the girls were found near a rubber dinghy that officials believe sank on Friday, according to AFP.

Among the 375 survivors were 90 women, eight of them pregnant, 52 children and some Libyan men and women on board. Many from sub-Saharan Africa are running from war and persecution.

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According to NEMA, the 149 persons bring the total number of stranded Nigerians brought back to the country in the last five weeks to 975. About 58 per cent of the refugees who have died this year during their cross-border migration have drowned in the Mediterranean, according to the International Organisation for Migration.

Since January, at least 113,957 migrants arrived in Italy after crossing the Mediterranean Sea.

Their bodies were recovered over the weekend in the Mediterranean Sea along a route frequently used by African migrants in search of a better life in Europe. 150,982 migrants have reached European shores, of which around 74% are Italian arrivals. "But also women traveling alone with their children have been abused".

The number of migrants arriving in Italy so far this year is 30 per cent lower than last year - 111,716 through Friday compared to almost 160,000 in the same period of 2016, according to Interior Ministry figures.

"It's a tragedy. The prosecutor's office will begin looking into it immediately", Salerno's prefect Salvatore Malfi said.

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