November 1, 2017 / 3:41 PM / in a year

Twelve North African stowaways sent home after three-month ferry ordeal

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Twelve North African migrant stowaways have been repatriated after being stuck on a ferry sailing back and forth between Turkey and Ukraine for three months, the ferry operator said on Wednesday.

With neither Turkish nor Ukrainian authorities willing to accept the migrants, the men had been locked in their cabins while the ferry continued taking goods and passengers between Istanbul and Odessa.

Denmark’s DFDS, which owns and operates the ferry, said a special task force set up by the Danish Foreign Ministry helped find a diplomatic solution so the men could return home.

Six of the men, who boarded the ferry hidden in trailers with goods from Turkey, were identified as Algerians and sent home on Oct. 29. The other six were on their way back to Morocco on Wednesday.

The men had to be locked in guarded cabins because they had a tendency to be violent, a DFDS spokesman said.

DFDS had invited authorities from the United Nations aboard to question the men, while the Danish Foreign Ministry held talks with Turkey, Ukraine and Lithuania, under whose flag the ferry was sailing, to resolve the situation.

Reporting by Julie Astrid Thomsen; Editing by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen and Hugh Lawson

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