SUDAN WATCH: Sudanese migrants clinging to life on a tuna net

Monday, May 28, 2007

Sudanese migrants clinging to life on a tuna net

Words fail me. Via - May 28, 2007:
As a Maltese tug boat trawls through the water picking up tuna, it becomes the sole means of survival for a group of desperate young migrants.

This astonishing sight reveals the peril facing 27 African migrants who clung to life for three days and nights after their boat sank and they were refused entry on board the tug.

Hanging on to buoys on an 18-inch-wide walkway with almost no food or drink, they were eventually rescued by the Italian navy – far luckier than many who attempt the journey.

African migrants clinging to life on a tuna net

Photo: The 27 African migrants cling on to a tuna net platform as the tug boat's captain refuses to let them come aboard

Their small boat, which left Libya, ran adrift for six days and two fishing boats sent to rescue them never arrived.

On Wednesday, the tug boat, Budafel, allowed them to mount the net's walkway but would not land the men because he said he had $1m-worth of tuna in the pen.

He said taking the men to Malta would have taken 12 days. He informed the Maltese authorities who phoned the Libyans.

Malta would not take them – they are full to capacity and have had 157 illegal immigrants come ashore in the past five days.

Maltese tug

Photo: The Maltese tug, Budafel, reportedly had caught £1million of tuna which was why the captain refused to help the migrants to safety

Libyan authorities were due to sent a helicopter and thrown down a life raft – but Matlese prime minister Lawrence Gonzi said that was not enough.

Eventually they said they would pick the men up but they did not. Luckily, an Italian navy vessel, Orione, was nearby, searching for other migrants, 53 Eritreans, who had died in the waters.

By 9pm on Saturday night the men, from Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Sudan and other countries, were finally on their way to Sicily, weak and exhausted.


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