ROME (AP) — A group of 146 asylum-seekers have arrived in Italy as part of a U.N.-backed humanitarian evacuation from Libya.
The U.N. refugee agency says it’s the fifth such evacuation since 2017, though previous airlifts have taken migrants to Niger and elsewhere.
The group arrived Monday at a Rome military base. Dozens of the asylum-seekers are minors, many of whom are unaccompanied. They hail from Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Ethiopia.
Under anti-migrant Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, Italy has essentially closed its ports to migrants fleeing Libya aboard smugglers boats.
Salvini’s deputy, Stefano Candiani, said Monday that such evacuations, in which the U.N. screens asylum-seekers in situ, are the way people deserving of protection should arrive in Europe.
A previous version of this story was corrected after the U.N. refugee agency revised the number in the group to 146, not 147.
Photo: A woman and two children are assisted by UNHCR (United Nations Refugee Agency) personnel, second from right, after disembarking from an Italian military aircraft arriving from Misrata, Libya, at Pratica di Mare military airport, near Rome, Monday, April 29, 2019. Italy organized a humanitarian evacuation airlift for a group of 147 asylum seekers from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan and Syria. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)