African migrants rejected by Italy in a standoff with the European Union last week said they had been held by smugglers for up to two years in Libya and many had been beaten, tortured and raped, the United Nations (UN) migration agency said on Tuesday.
The 150 migrants, mainly Eritreans and Somalis, were rescued in the Mediterranean but waited 10 days while Italy’s anti-immigrant government refused to let them disembark, until Ireland, Albania and the Vatican agreed to accept them.
A further 27 unaccompanied minors and 13 people needing urgent hospital treatment had earlier been allowed ashore in Italy, whose government had threatened to cut funds to the European Union unless other states took in the migrants.
The U.N. International Organization for Migration (IOM) said its staff had gathered testimony from the migrants.
All were malnourished and exhausted and said they had been held against their will in Libya for up to two years, IOM spokesman Joel Millman told a U.N. briefing in Geneva.
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