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Italy closed the sea to refugees

Eritrean refugees had originally cheered the sight of an Italian ship in the Mediterranean. They'd been adrift for four days. Little did they know that Italy would breach international law and dump them in Libya to face near-certain abuse. (Photo: Closed Sea)

Here's a remarkable sound recorded on video aboard a disabled boat, as African refugees welcome the sight of an Italian helicopter after four days at sea without food and water.

But their delight is misplaced.

Italy is not there to welcome them, but to send them back where they came from.

In 2009, it defied the UN and illegally closed the Mediterranean to refugees.

The impact of that policy of pushback -- or refoulement, as it's known -- comes under scrutiny in a new film called Closed Sea.

It documents the astonishing story of Eritreans fleeing military repression at home, hoping to sail to Italy via Libya, and marooned by politics.

Writer and director Stefano Liberti joined us from Rome.

The June 7 Dispatches program

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