Ship carrying high number of refugee children docks in Italy

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Rome –   A migrant rescue ship carrying 600 people, 40 per cent of whom are children and young people, arrived in Italy on Friday, aid organisations said.

MSF Sea, the rescue mission in the region of NGO Doctors Without Borders, tweeted that the vessel had arrived in Palermo, Sicily.

Many of the women on board the merchant ship Aquarius reported have experienced sexual abuse and violence in Libya before setting sail for Europe, according to rescue group SOS Mediterranee.

A six-day-old baby was the first to be recovered from the ship on arrival, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said.

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The boat was carrying many children and families from Syria, as well as people from sub-Saharan Africa.

“The Aquarius was mobilised for seven operations in less than 36 hours,” Madeleine Habib, SOS Mediterranee’s search and rescue-coordinator on the Aquarius, said in an earlier statement.

“All those who were in serious danger on these makeshift boats in the open sea, are now safe on board the Aquarius,” Habib added.

Libya remains a major hub for migrants and refugees striving to reach Europe, with Italy bearing the brunt of the humanitarian crisis.

However, the number of arrivals has dropped recently due to a controversial cooperation agreement between the Italian government and the Libyan coastguard. (dpa/NAN)

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