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UNHCR welcomes decision to allow boat people to disembark in Italy

Briefing notes

UNHCR welcomes decision to allow boat people to disembark in Italy

13 July 2004

UNHCR warmly welcomes the Italian government's decision to allow the 37 people on the Cap Anamur boat to disembark in Italy. The legal questions surrounding the issue of which state was responsible were extremely complicated, and we are grateful to the Italians for putting humanitarian considerations to the forefront, rather than continue with the impasse that had developed over the past 10 days.

It is not yet clear where the rescued people are from. Reports from the boat were suggesting that some or all of them are from Sudan, but reports from Italy yesterday were citing Ghana and Nigeria. The Italian authorities are currently carrying out the preliminary identification process, so presumably this aspect will become clearer over the coming days. Now the people are on shore, it will be easier to deal with these and any other asylum issues that may arise.

UNHCR has a team in Sicily and they are closely monitoring the situation. Some in the group had already made asylum claims while still on board the boat. However, we do not yet know whether any of them have claimed asylum in Italy. We are currently seeking access to the centre where they are being held.