Two Ukrainians are suspected of illegally transporting 71 migrants to Italy
An Italian police patrol intercepted the boat carrying 71 migrants off the Punta Alice promontory in the southern town of Crotone, in the Ionian Sea. The Kurds and Iraqis on board, including eight women and 15 children, had departed from Turkey four days earlier. All arrived in good health, disembarking at the Port of Crotone.
Authorities said they suspected two men on the boat were human smugglers. The men had Ukrainian passports, they said.
The use of sailboats, as well as the presence of Eastern European citizens as skippers - a method that has been seen for months on the alternative route to the Strait of Sicily - has led authorities to believe that an international organisation that branches into Eastern Europe is behind the people smuggling.
15 children were among the migrants who arrived at the Crotone port. Volunteers from Misericordia organized an improvised game to help them unwind as they waited to be transferred to the migrant reception center in the town of Isola di Capo Rizzuto.
According to the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine information about the alleged illegal transportation of migrants was handed over to the Italian authorities by its employees through the channels of Europol. Last month, the cooperation between the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine and Europol helped to identify a yacht under the German flag illegally transporting irregular migrants to Italy.