The Latest: Interfaith ceremony for drowned Nigerian women

November 17, 2017

People put flowers on the coffins during the funeral service for 26 Nigerian women, at the Salerno cemetery, southern Italy, Friday Nov.17, 2017. The women died last week while crossing the Mediterranean sea in an attempt to reach Italy. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — The Latest on the flow of migrants into Europe (all times local):

4:55 p.m.

Catholic and Muslim preachers in Italy have celebrated a funeral for 26 young Nigerian women who drowned in a crossing from Libya, as prosecutors work to contact their relatives using phone numbers they had hidden in their clothes.

To date, only two of the women whose bodies were recovered Nov. 3 have been identified: A Christian and a Muslim. Two suspected traffickers have been taken into custody. Two of the victims were pregnant.

On Friday, 26 wooden coffins were laid out in a circle in the middle of Salerno’s cemetery for the interfaith ceremony.

Salerno Archbishop Luigi Moretti told the crowd that the women “lost their lives as they were seeking freedom and a better life.”

Prosecutors said overall, 100 people were believed to have drowned in the crossing.


4:25 p.m.

Authorities on the Greek island of Lesbos have called a strike and are urging residents to take part in anti-government protests to press for a change a European Union policy of containment of refugees and migrants on Greece’s islands.

In a statement, the island’s municipality called the strike for Monday against the policy of turning Lesbos into an “island prison.”

Greece’s government and the EU have ignored pleas from the mayors of Lesbos, and the nearby islands of Chios, Samos, Leros and Kos, to allow more migrants to travel to the Greek mainland, resulting in major overcrowding at island facilities.

More than 8,000 migrants and refugees are stranded on Lesbos, where the reception capacity in 1,500.

Update hourly