In the first largescale landing of immigrants on the shores of France since 2001, 124 illegal refugees landed in Corsica after being dumped by traffickers. Most are from North Africa and the Middle East.
AFP - Traffickers landed a boatload of 124 illegal migrants on a beach in Corsica, authorities on the French Mediterranean island said on Friday.
The migrants were dropped off near the southern town of Bonifacio by a boat which then departed, officials said. They were taken to a gymnasium to be treated by doctors and aid staff.
Among them were 38 children and five pregnant women, one of whom was hospitalised in nearby Porto-Vecchio. The town's mayor Jean-Charles Orsucci told AFP that most of them were "in good health, not starving."
They were "put ashore from a boat by traffickers, apparently on Thursday evening," but were not discovered on the isolated beach until Friday morning, a Corsican official said.
Immigration minister Eric Besson said in a statement that some of the migrants identified themselves as Kurds from Syria and others were from North Africa.
He told reporters a suspect boat had since been spotted in international waters and was due to be stopped by Italian authorities.
It was the first known large-scale landing of migrants on the shores of the Mediterranean island. A boat carrying some 900 Kurds capsized off southern France in 2001 in a case involving Syrian and Lebanese traffickers.
Migrants have often arrived in a similar way on Spanish and Italian soil after dangerous sea crossings.
A spokesman for the local maritime authorities, Bernard Celier, said they were patrolling to see if there were other trafficking vessels nearby and police and helicopters were scanning the shore for migrants.
Date created : 2010-01-22