News: Italy uncovers begging racket

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Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Tue, 22 Dec 1998 14:47:12 -0500


Another side of trafficking.......

Italy uncovers begging racket
BBC News Service, December 21, 1998

Police in Milan have arrested a gang of about 20 Albanians, accusing them
of bringing children into the country illegally and forcing them to beg.

The authorities freed 20 children aged between 13 and 16 who had been
forced to beg on the streets of the northern Italian city.

The children were allegedly under instructions to bring back the equivalent
of at least $30 in cash each day or face beatings and torture with
cigarette burns.

They had been living in primitive conditions in an abandoned factory on the
outskirts of the city.

Gang members, including three women, have been arrested and charged with
exploiting minors.

Sold into slavery

Police said some of the children are believed to have been sold into
slavery by their families.

A number of them had already been expelled from Italy but were smuggled
back into the country by the gang.

According to the police, more than 800 unaccompanied children from Albania
under the age of 16 have arrived in Italy so far this year.

Only 200 have been reunited with their families.

Emergency measure

As another 400 illegal immigrants entered Southern Italy on Albanian
smugglers' boats over the weekend, officials from the two countries met to
discuss the situation.

Livia Turco, Italy's Minister for Social Solidarity, met the Albanian Prime
Minister, Pandeli Majko, and told him that Italy's humanitarian aid
programme for Albania was at risk unless firm action was taken to stop
illegal migrants crossing the Adriatic Sea to Italy.

The Albanians say they have prepared a draft law to deal with the emergency.

$1000 a head

Boat owners charge around a thousand dollars a head to illegal immigrants
wishing to enter the European Union.

They include not only Albanians but also Kurds, Iraqis and North Africans.

Italian police said over 150 of this weekend's immigrants were children.

They were provided with hot meals and blankets by voluntary aid organisations.

Melanie Orhant

Co-Director
Human Trafficking Program
Global Survival Network

P.O. Box 73214
Washington, DC 20009
T: 387-0028
F: 387-2590
Email: morhant@igc.org
www.globalsurvival.net


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