Italy deports 40 Egyptian migrants

Italian authorities deported 40 Egyptians who were attempting to enter the country without visas, the state-owned Middle East News Agency (MENA) reported Monday.  

A security source at the Cairo International Airport said the individuals had left the Sicilian port of Catania and landed in Egypt, and were being inspected before allowed to enter the country.

The suspects claimed they were victims of a deportation scam which cost them huge sums of money in return for being transported to Italian coastal cities on fishing boats.

The 40 deportees were arrested as soon as they arrived in Italy, MENA said.

The Alexandria prosecutor general is now investigating the case of three Egyptians who were arrested with 78 Palestinians and Syrians by the Coast Guard in front of the Ras al-Tin lighthouse in Alexandria as they were boarding a boat allegedly headed to Italy.

The suspects confessed that they had paid US$3,500 to be smuggled into Italy, MENA reported.  

On Saturday, six Egyptian migrants drowned off the coast of Catania. Reports suggested that their boat was abandoned at sea by a larger vessel.

Another vessel carrying 80 migrants, mostly Syrians and Egyptians, was caught in the sand near the southern Italian town of Calabria on Sunday. There were no reported casualties.

Five boats have arrived at Calabria over the past 15 days, state-owned Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram reported.

Some 7,800 undocumented migrants and asylum seekers landed in Italy in the first half of this year, according to figures from the United Nations.

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