herald

Saturday 10 December 2016

Raped, shot, beaten and tortured - migrants arriving in Italy's ports

crisis

MIGRANTS crossing the Mediterranean are arriving in Europe with bullet wounds and other signs of violence, according to a doctor working at the coalface of the crisis.

Dr Chiara Montaldo of Medic Senza Frontier (MSF - Doctors Without Borders), has told the Herald much of the injuries are inflicted in Libya and it's getting "worse and worse".

Her remarks come ahead of Taoiseach Enda Kenny's meeting with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in Rome today.

The chaos in Libya and the migrant crisis are on the agenda.

Mr Kenny last night praised the contribution of the Irish flagship the LE Eithne, which has rescued almost 3,400 people.

He also conceded that the asylum process in Ireland is "not up to scratch".

Dr Montaldo is MSF's coordinator in Sicily where the LE Eithne has brought hundreds of rescued migrants.

While none of those delivered by the Irish ship had suffered gunshots, she said it's becoming all too frequent.

"This has happened many times - one even died recently," she said.

"Unfortunately it is quite common to find people who have been shot. Several times we have received people who have been shot just before getting on the boat."

She said that migrants have described conditions in Libyan detention centres as "hell".

Tortured

"They say that they have to work in the daytime and then at night time they are often tortured or beaten."

Her team also deals with cases of migrants who have suffered sexual violence.

"We had a minor who tried to take his own life who had probably been a victim of a rape in Libya."

Some pregnant women that land in ports like Pozzallo and Catania have also been the victims of sexual violence.

"Many of them ask for abortions because their pregnancy is a consequence of rape," Dr Montaldo said.

She said many of the migrants are traumatised by their experiences and are suffering from psychological illnesses.

MSF also have boats patrolling the Mediterranean.

The dock at Pozzallo, one of its main reception areas, is littered with migrant craft recovered by Italian authoriites and put out of use.

Meanwhile, Mr Kenny has said that the Government has yet to consider how many of the migrants will be resettled here.

Earlier this week Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald sad that Ireland may be asked to take as many as 600 refugees and that there would be a decision on the matter later this month.

"Ireland will consider taking a number but government haven't actually reflected on that yet," Mr Kenny said.

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