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Church leader says Italy overwhelmed by migrant issue

Leonardo De Chirico's been speaking to Premier as yet another boat carrying hundreds of refugees was abandoned off the coast of Italy.

Italian authorities have now taken control of the ship after officers were lowered from a helicopter onto the deck of the vessel.

The boat which is named the Ezadeen is believed to have set sail from the Middle East, probably from Turkey or Lebanon.

Of the 450 refugees on board, most are Syrian and children and pregnant women are among them.

The development comes just days after almost 1,000 migrants were rescued from another ship in similar circumstances.

It's thought people traffickers are behind what's been described as a new trend.

Often people in impoverished countries pay money for the promise of a better life in Europe but end up in situations worse than they came from.

The Italian Evangelical Alliance says it's doing all it can to help those who end up in the country but Mr De Chirico is concerned the situation is spiralling out of control.

Speaking to Premier, he said: "As a country, as well as a church we're a bit overwhelmed by it.

"We realise the need to work and think about these challenges on a much bigger scale with a different perspective.

"It's not just about giving relief to a few individuals but an ongoing stream of people with all kinds of needs and I think we've got homework to do in terms of how we're going to deal with this challenge in a gracious, gospel centred and practical way."

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