Boat with 200 refugees arrives in Italy | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 21.11.2009
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Boat with 200 refugees arrives in Italy

Roughly 200 hundred refugees from Africa have arrived in Sicily, after travelling across the Mediterranean by boat.

A small boat crammed full with refugees.

Thousands of Africans try to cross the oceans on rickety vessels like this each year

The boat, with around 200 refugees from Africa on board, arrived at the Italian Mediterranean island of Sicily overnight, according to local Coast Guard officials.

Coast Guard vessels intercepted the roughly 15 meter-long vessel in open water, and escorted it to the port of Pozallo.

There were 48 women and five children amongst the group of people.

The refugees say they all came from Eritrea, however, it is not clear exactly which port they set off from. Italy works in conjunction with authorities in Tripoli in a bid to spot refugees heading for Europe by boat and to send them back.

Media reports say many of the refugees needed hospital treatment for dehydration after being at sea for several days.

The United Nations refugee agency estimates that 36,952 refugees fled to Italy from Africa over the ocean last year - an increase of 75 percent over 2007 - and the country has hardened its immigration policies to cope with the greater numbers of asylum seekers. It is a dangerous journey, and hundreds die each year attempting it.

Editor: Andreas Illmer

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