4-year-old Tunisian girl crosses Mediterranean on boat without parents, lands in Italy


Tunisian authorities are trying to repatriate a four-year-old girl who was forced by her parents to take a migrant boat alone to Italy.

The girl, Linda, landed on Lampedusa island on October 17 after undertaking a 26-hour journey over the Mediterranean Sea on a crowded wooden boat, which carried 70 other asylum seekers from Tunisia.

Tunisian MP Majdi Karbai said that the girl was doing fine and her parents were arrested and given a travel ban for abandoning a minor.

“Linda is doing well, and she is in a community centre for children in Palermo, after having been transferred from Lampedusa to a community in the province of Agrigento,” Karbai was quoted as saying by the Guardian newspaper.

 “She’s constantly asking about her parents and when she will be able to see them again.”

As per reports, the girl’s parents were later released from jail after the news of the girl’s arrival. They might be charged with human trafficking.

 “Her parents are in Tunisia and Tunisian authorities [on 26 October] imposed a travel ban on them. They would prefer to repatriate Linda, but the procedures are not so easy as the girl is under the legal protection of a local guardian,” he added.

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However, a judge in Sicily has blocked the girl’s repatriation, asking the magistrate to prepare a report on the causes of the accident and Linda’s departure without her parents.

Linda was initially supposed to board the boat with her parents, but due to overcrowding, she was forced to go alone.

Her father is a street vendor and earns living by selling sandwiches in Sayada. Linda has a sister with a heart condition and is in need of medical assistance.

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Due to the current political crisis and food scarcity, the parents decided to leave Tunisia hoping for a better living for their children in Europe. They had even prepared a dossier containing her clinical records.

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As per the Guardian, around 20,000 people have died or gone missing since 2014 in the central Mediterranean, the most unsafe passage to Europe and one of the deadliest borders in the world.

(With inputs from agencies)


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