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Seven refugees fleeing Somalia 'thrown overboard' off coast of Italy

A woman's body reportedly washed up after traffickers abandoned the boat

Jess Staufenberg
Tuesday 12 January 2016 19:52 GMT
Hundreds of thousands of refugees have arrived in Europe over recent months
Hundreds of thousands of refugees have arrived in Europe over recent months (AFP/Getty)

Seven Somalian refugees trying to leave the country by boat are thought to have died after the were reportedly thrown overboard by human traffickers in Italy.

The seven, who were understood to be among a group of more than 40 people, were saud to be en route from Greece.

A 10-year-old boy and 21 women were on board, with one woman's body reportedly found washed up near where the incident had taken place off Puglia’s Salento coast, The Local reported.

Traffickers then abandoned the boat in the early hours of Monday, said survivors. The body of a woman was later found near rocks near Capo di Leuca.

About 320,000 boat migrants have been accepted into Italy since the start of 2014.

More than a million migrants arrived in Europe in 2015, most of them refugees fleeing war and violence in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, according to the United Nations refugee agency.

In Somalia, a civil war has been ongoing since 2009 with government forces, backed by African Union peacekeeping troops and US drone strikes, fighting Islamist militants al-Shabaab.

At least 3,692 migrants and refugees from across the Middle East and north Africa have died attempting to make the crossing, according to a count by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

Germany has welcomed at least 800,000 refugees throughout 2015 and Chancellor Angela Merkel has said the country could accept another 500,000 a year for the next few years.

The UK is accepting Syrian 4,000 refugees every year for five years, David Cameron has said - amounting to 20,000 in total.

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