Italy Holds Funeral For 26 Nigerian Women Drowned In Mediterranean

A Roman Catholic bishop and a Muslim imam both said prayers at the simple ceremony in the southern city of Salerno, with 26 wooden coffins laid out on a stone dais. A single white rose was placed on the lid of each.

“It is very likely that these girls were victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation,” said Federico Soda, director UN migration agency IOM for the Mediterranean.

A recent IOM report had estimated that 80 percent of Nigerian girls arriving in Italy by sea might be trafficking victims.

The 26 bodies were retrieved from the sea on Nov. 3 by a Spanish rescue ship, while some 64 people were unaccounted for and feared lost, bringing the total dead to around 90, said Flavio Di Giacomo, an IOM spokesman.

Survivors found on nearby rubber boats said the women were all Nigerian and had left Libya hoping to make it to Italy.

The only two identified were named as Marian Shaka, who was married, and Osato Osaro. Both were pregnant. Some of those who died were believed to have been as young as 14.

Map of Italy
Map of Italy

Almost 115,000 migrants, mainly African men, have reached Italy so far this year, according to government data released on Friday, against just over 167,000 in the same period last year.

IOM said at least 2,925 people died trying to cross the Mediterranean from Jan 1.-Nov. 5 against 4,302 last year.

The Italian government has worked with Libyan authorities to block migrants from leaving the north African state, leading to a sharp fall in new arrivals since the summer.

The government says its policy has cut the number of sea deaths, while critics say it has left thousands of refugees and migrants trapped in appalling conditions in Libya.

AP

Photos: Angela Caponetto/AFP

Liberia Consoles Nigeria On Passing of Lt. Gen Victor Malu

The Liberian government, through its envoy in Nigeria, has offered condolences on the passing for a former Force Commander of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Lieutenant Victor Malu.

Ellen-Johnson-Sirleaf
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

A press statement copied to West African Journal Magazine quotes Ambassador Dr. Al-Hassan Conteh, on behalf of the Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, as saying “I wish to extend our heartfelt condolences on the sad passing of former Chief of Army Staff and Force Commander of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Peacekeeping Force in Liberia and Sierra Leone, ECOMOG, retired Lieutenant General Victor Samuel Leonard Malu.”

 The Nigeria General, as Force Commander, played a critical role in stabilizing the West African nation following years of conflict.

Funeral of-Late Gen Victor Malu
Funeral of Lt General Victor Malu

Lt. Gen. Malu served as Chief of Staff of ECOMOG and Commander of the Nigerian Contingent in Liberia from 1992 to 1993.

He subsequently served as the ECOMOG Force Commander in Liberia from December 1996 to April 1998. After that, he served as Chief of Army Staff during the administration of His Excellency President Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR, from May 1999 to April 2001.

The statement from the Liberian government further said, “In this hour of mourning, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf extends to His Excellency Muhammad Buhari, GCFR, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, and through His  Excellency, to the Government and people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, especially the bereaved family, heartfelt condolences on behalf of the people of Liberia and in her own name, for the irreplaceable loss sustained.”

Family memebrs at Funeral
Family Members At Funeral

In its condolence message to the Government and people of Nigeria, Liberia noted that “General Malu was a decorated soldier who will be remembered in Liberia for risking everything, including his personal life, in the search for peace in Liberia. On this sad occasion, Liberians of all ages and social strata wish to pay tribute to his selfless work in securing peace and stability in their country.  He will always be remembered as a man of professionalism, discipline and bravery, which was clearly demonstrated during the time of greatest need in Liberia,” the statement said.

Nigerian Military members
Nigerian Military Members

Lieutenant General Malu died in Cairo, Egypt in early October following a period of illness. On last Saturday, funeral services were held at Tse-Adoor Compound, Tongove, Mbajima, Katsina Ala LGA in Benue State, Nigeria and attended by senior military staff and former colleagues, representatives of the Nigerian Government and family members.

By Staff Reporter

West African Journal Magazine