Editions:  Austria · Denmark · France · Germany · Italy · Norway · Spain · Sweden · Switzerland

'Mafia of smugglers' bring migrants to Italy

Share this article

'Mafia of smugglers' bring migrants to Italy
Egypt's Interior Minister Hany Abdel Atif said a "Mafia of smugglers" is responsible for bringing migrants to Italy. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP
15:01 CEST+02:00
Egypt on Wednesday blamed organized criminal gangs of people traffickers operating on its territory after a boat carrying 500 illegal migrants was intentionally capsized off Malta.

The migrants, including up to 100 children, drowned after smugglers sank their ship when the passengers refused to change to a smaller vessel, survivors said.

"There is a Mafia of smugglers that work on smuggling illegal immigrants to Italy," interior ministry spokesman Hany Abdel Latif said when asked about accusations that Egyptian smugglers were behind last week's shipwreck, the deadliest in Europe in years.

In the incident off Malta, just 10 people survived and some of them told the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) that their boat had been intentionally sunk by a group of 10 smugglers said to be Palestinians and Egyptians.

The migrants, many of whom were Syrian, Palestinian, Egyptian and Sudanese, had set out from the Mediterranean city of Damietta in Egypt on September 6th.

Abdel Latif said that migrants were entering Egypt under false pretences before trying to travel on to Europe.

"Those Syrians and Palestinians enter Egypt with tourist visas, then attempt to get smuggled to Italy," he said.

According to UN refugee agency UNHCR, more than 2,500 people have drowned or gone missing attempting to cross the Mediterranean to Europe this year.

Get notified about breaking news on The Local

Share this article

From our sponsors

Change the world with a master’s degree from Sweden’s Linköping University

Master’s students at world-leading Linköping University (LiU) aren’t there simply to study. They solve real-world problems alongside experts in fields that can create a better tomorrow. Do you have what it takes to join them?