On Sunday Italian officials discovered the bodies of 26 migrants girls from Niger and Nigeria, aged 14 to 18 years old, who died on route to Europe from Libya. The bodies of the girls were found by a Spanish Vessel- according to Agence France-Presse. The majority of the bodies were found need a rubber dinghy that sank earlier on Friday. Alongside the dead floating bodies, some survivors were found hanging on. The Spanish vessel reported rescuing 90 women and 52 minors; this rescue was one of four operations which saved 400 people over the weekend.
Italian police chief official in Salerno, Lorena Ciccotti, stated that officials have launched an investigation to determine if the 26 migrants girls were killed and/or if they were tortured or sexually abused prior. Salvatore Malfi, a top Salerno official, stated that the girls may have been thrown off the rubber dinghy, and that thus far the cause of death appears to be drowning.
This incident highlights the gender disparity in migrant deaths and gendered violence that puts women at a higher risk during migration broadly.
Being at the centre of the migration route to Europe, securing Libya has been a growing concern for many European countries. Most recently, Italy has been working with Libyan officials to overcome the migrant crisis. In the midst of the current power struggle in Libya, human trafficking operations have gone widely unchecked. As such, the question of stability in Libya remains to a central international concern.