Thursday 8 December 2016

Italian and Maltese ships responding to two migrant emergencies near Libyan coast

Press Association

Published 20/04/2015 | 20:40

A migrant, trying to reach Greece, is rescued by a man at the coast of the southeastern island of Rhodes April 20, 2015. REUTERS/Argiris Mantikos/Eurokinissi
A migrant, trying to reach Greece, is rescued by a man at the coast of the southeastern island of Rhodes April 20, 2015. REUTERS/Argiris Mantikos/Eurokinissi

Italian Premier Matteo Renzi says Italian and Maltese ships are responding to two migrant emergencies near the Libyan coast.

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Mr Renzi told a joint press conference with Malta Prime Minister Joseph Muscat that ships from the two countries were responding to distress calls from an inflatable life-raft near the Libyan coast with 100 to 150 on board and to another boat with 300 people on board.

Mr Renzi said the rescue operations, coming after the deadly shipwreck this weekend, are evidence that smugglers' activities are intensifying and that Europe needs to unite to combat the human trafficking in the Mediterranean.

Mr Muscat called the weekend tragedy "a game changer" with the "realisation that if Europe doesn't work together history will judge it very badly".

It comes as it was announced that European Union leaders will hold an emergency summit on Thursday to address the crisis.

Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed the summit. He said: "I think what we need is a comprehensive plan that does involve elements of search and rescue but, crucially, we have got to do more to deal with the problems in the countries from which these people are coming."

The head of Frontex, the European border surveillance agency, says the recent tragedies show that the continent must do more to stop economic migration.

Fabrice Leggeri said Europe should help people fleeing political persecution in their countries, but economic migration, he said, is another matter and should be prevented.

A migrant, trying to reach Greece, is rescued by a man at the coast of the southeastern island of Rhodes April 20, 2015. REUTERS/Argiris Mantikos/Eurokinissi
A migrant, trying to reach Greece, is rescued by a man at the coast of the southeastern island of Rhodes April 20, 2015. REUTERS/Argiris Mantikos/Eurokinissi
The wreckage of a boat used by migrants is seen in Catania's Harbour, Italy, Monday, April 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
A migrant (C), trying to reach Greece, is carried by a Greek Coast guard officer at the coast of the southeastern island of Rhodes April 20, 2015. REUTERS/Argiris Mantikos/Eurokinissi
An Italian coastguard officer salutes as Armed Forces of Malta personnel in protective clothing carry the body of a dead immigrant off the ship Bruno Gregoretti in Senglea, in Valletta's Grand Harbour REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi
Italian coastguard and Armed Forces of Malta personnel in protective clothing carry the body of a dead immigrant off the ship Bruno Gregoretti in Senglea, in Valletta's Grand Harbour REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi
Surviving immigrants lie on the deck of Italian coastguard ship Bruno Gregoretti in Senglea, in Valletta's Grand Harbour REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi
Surviving immigrants lie on the deck of Italian coastguard ship Bruno Gregoretti in Senglea, in Valletta's Grand Harbour REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi
Surviving immigrants lie on the deck of Italian coastguard ship Bruno Gregoretti in Senglea, in Valletta's Grand Harbour REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi
Italian coastguard personnel in protective clothing stand near the bodies of dead immigrants on their ship Bruno Gregoretti in Senglea, in Valletta's Grand Harbour REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi
Italian coastguard personnel in protective clothing carry the body of a dead immigrant on their ship Bruno Gregoretti in Senglea, in Valletta's Grand Harbour REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi
Italian coastguard personnel in protective clothing carry the body of a dead immigrant off their ship Bruno Gregoretti in Senglea, in Valletta's Grand Harbour REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi
Italian Coast Guard officers disembark the body of a dead migrant off the ship Bruno Gregoretti, in Valletta's Grand Harbour (AP Photo/Lino Azzopardi)
Armed Forces of Malta personnel in protective clothing carry the body of a dead immigrant off Italian coastguard ship Bruno Gregoretti as surviving migrants watch in Senglea, in Valletta's Grand Harbour REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi
Armed Forces of Malta personnel in protective clothing carry the body of a dead immigrant off the Italian coastguard ship Bruno Gregoretti as surviving migrants watch in Senglea, in Valletta's Grand Harbour REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi
Migrants wait to disembark in the Sicilian harbor of Pozzallo, Italy (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
The Italian coastguard ship 'Bruno Gregoretti', carrying dead immigrants on board, arrives in Senglea, in Valletta's Grand, Harbour REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi
The Italian coastguard ship 'Bruno Gregoretti', carrying dead immigrants on board, arrives in Senglea, in Valletta's Grand, Harbour REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi
The Italian coastguard ship 'Bruno Gregoretti', carrying dead immigrants on board, arrives in Senglea, in Valletta's Grand, HarbourREUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi
Italian coastguard personnel in protective clothing stand on the deck of their ship 'Bruno Gregoretti', carrying dead immigrants on board, as it arrives in Senglea, in Valletta's Grand, Harbour REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi
Italian coastguard personnel in protective clothing stand on the deck of their ship 'Bruno Gregoretti', carrying dead immigrants on board, as it arrives in Senglea, in Valletta's Grand, Harbour REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi
Migrants wait to disembark in the Sicilian harbor of Pozzallo, Italy (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
A rescuer cradles a child in the Sicilian harbor of Pozzallo, Italy, early Monday (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Migrants wait to disembark in the Sicilian harbor of Pozzallo, Italy (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Migrants wait to disembark in the Sicilian harbor of Pozzallo, Italy (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
The Italian coastguard ship 'Bruno Gregoretti', carrying dead immigrants on board, arrives in Senglea, in Valletta's Grand, HarbourREUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi
A woman carries a child as she disembarks in the Sicilian harbor of Pozzallo, Italy (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
A rescuer, right, cradles a child in the Sicilian harbor of Pozzallo, Italy (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Children are carried by rescue workers as migrants arrive via boat at the Sicilian harbor of Pozzallo April 19, 2015. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
A child (C) is carried into bus as migrants arrive via boat at the Sicilian harbor of Pozzallo April 20, 2015. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
Migrants arrive on a boat at the Sicilian harbor of Pozzallo April 20, 2015. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
Italian police (R) photograph a child after migrants arrived via boat at the Sicilian harbor of Pozzallo April 19, 2015. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
A child is carried by a rescue worker (R) as migrants arrive on a boat at the Sicilian harbor of Pozzallo April 19, 2015. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
Children are carried by rescue workers as they arrive with migrants on the boat at the Sicilian harbor of Pozzallo April 19, 2015. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
A child is carried by a rescue worker (R) as he arrives with migrants on the boat at the Sicilian harbor of Pozzallo April 19, 2015. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
Migrants arrive on the boat at the Sicilian harbor of Pozzallo April 19, 2015. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
A child looks on as he arrives with migrants on a boat at the Sicilian harbor of Pozzallo April 19, 2015. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
Migrants arrive on the boat at the Sicilian harbor of Pozzallo April 19, 2015. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
Rescuers help children to disembark in the Sicilian harbor of Pozzallo, Italy (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
A migrant is helped disembark in the Sicilian harbor of Pozzallo, Italy, early Monday, April 20, 2015. About 100 migrants, including 28 children, were rescued on Sunday by a merchant vessel in the Sicilian Strait while they were trying to cross. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
An Italian Police officer stands next to mug shots of alleged migrant traffickers shown during a press conference, in Palermo, Sicily, Italy, Monday, April 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Alessandro Fucarini)
A man rescues an migrant from the Aegean sea, in the eastern island of Rhodes, Monday, April 20, 2015. Greek authorities said that at least three people have died, including a child, after a wooden boat carrying tens of migrants ran aground off the island of Rhodes. (Argiris Mantikos/Eurokinissi via AP)
Armed Forces of Malta personnel in protective clothing carry the body of a dead immigrant off the Italian coastguard ship Bruno Gregoretti as surviving migrants watch in Senglea, in Valletta's Grand Harbour April 20, 2015. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi
People stand next to the recovered body of a migrant, who tried to reach Greece, at the coast of the southeastern island of Rhodes April 20, 2015. REUTERS/Argiris Mantikos/Eurokinissi
ALTERNATIVE CROP -- Italian Coast Guard officers disembark the body of a dead migrant off the ship Bruno Gregoretti, in Valletta's Grand Harbour, Monday, April 20 2015. (AP Photo/Lino Azzopardi)
Survivors of the smuggler's boat that overturned off the coasts of Libya lie on the deck of the Italian Coast Guard ship Bruno Gregoretti, in Valletta's Grand Harbour, Monday, April 20 2015. (AP Photo/Lino Azzopardi)
Survivors of a smuggler's boat that overturned off the coasts of Libya lie on the deck of the Italian Coast Guard ship Bruno Gregoretti, in Valletta's Grand Harbour, Monday, April 20 2015. (AP Photo/Lino Azzopardi)
Medical personnel walk a survivor of the smuggler's boat that overturned off the coasts of Libya, on the deck of the Italian Coast Guard ship Bruno Gregoretti, in Valletta's Grand Harbour, Monday, April 20 2015. (AP Photo/Lino Azzopardi)
Survivors of the smuggler's boat that overturned off the coasts of Libya lie on the deck of the Italian Coast Guard ship Bruno Gregoretti, in Valletta's Grand Harbour, Monday, April 20 2015. (AP Photo/Lino Azzopardi)
A man carries the recovered body of a dead migrant child at the coast of the southeastern island of Rhodes April 20, 2015. REUTERS/Argiris Mantikos/Eurokinissi
Italian Coast Guard officers disembark the body of a dead migrant off the ship Bruno Gregoretti, in Valletta's Grand Harbour, Monday, April 20 2015. (AP Photo/Lino Azzopardi)
Surviving immigrants lie on the deck of the Italian coastguard ship Bruno Gregoretti in Senglea, in Valletta's Grand Harbour, April 20, 2015. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi
Armed Forces of Malta personnel in protective clothing carry the body of a dead immigrant off Italian coastguard ship Bruno Gregoretti as surviving migrants watch in Senglea, in Valletta's Grand Harbour, April 20, 2015. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi
Armed Forces of Malta personnel in protective clothing carry the body of a dead immigrant off Italian coastguard ship Bruno Gregoretti as surviving migrants watch in Senglea, in Valletta's Grand Harbour, April 20, 2015. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi
Armed Forces of Malta personnel in protective clothing carry the body of a dead immigrant into a vehicle after disembarking from the Italian coastguard ship Bruno Gregoretti in Senglea, in Valletta's Grand Harbour, April 20, 2015. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi
Armed Forces of Malta personnel in protective clothing carry the body of a dead immigrant into a hearse after disembarking from Italian coastguard ship Bruno Gregoretti in Senglea, in Valletta's Grand Harbour April 20, 2015. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi
Armed Forces of Malta personnel in protective clothing carry the body of a dead immigrant off the Italian coastguard ship Bruno Gregoretti as surviving migrants watch in Senglea, in Valletta's Grand Harbour April 20, 2015. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi
Armed Forces of Malta personnel in protective clothing carry the body of a dead immigrant off the Italian coastguard ship Bruno Gregoretti as surviving migrants watch in Senglea, in Valletta's Grand Harbour April 20, 2015. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi
Armed Forces of Malta personnel in protective clothing carry the body of a dead immigrant off Italian coastguard ship Bruno Gregoretti as surviving migrants watch in Senglea, in Valletta's Grand Harbour, April 20, 2015. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi
Surviving immigrants lie on the deck of Italian coastguard ship Bruno Gregoretti in Senglea, in Valletta's Grand Harbour April 20, 2015. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi
Surviving immigrants lie on the deck of the Italian coastguard ship Bruno Gregoretti in Senglea, in Valletta's Grand Harbour April 20, 2015. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi
Italian Coast Guard officers disembark the body of a dead migrant off the ship Bruno Gregoretti, in Valletta's Grand Harbour, Monday, April 20 2015. (AP Photo/Lino Azzopardi)
Rescuers help children to disembark in the Sicilian harbor of Pozzallo, Italy, early Monday, April 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Migrants wait to disembark in the Sicilian harbor of Pozzallo, Italy, early Monday, April 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Migrants wait to disembark in the Sicilian harbor of Pozzallo, Italy, early Monday, April 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
A rescuer cradles a child in the Sicilian harbor of Pozzallo, Italy, early Monday, April 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

Mr Leggeri, whose agency is based in Warsaw, said that European countries should send economic migrants back to their countries of origin by plane so that they can spread the truth that there can be no safe journey.

He said Europe should also counter the smugglers who lure migrants with promises of safe passage to Europe, while they in fact expose them to danger.

Migrants crossing the Mediterranean are fleeing conflict, repression and poverty in countries such as Eritrea, Niger, Syria, Iraq and Somalia.

The United Nations' human rights chief has called on European Union governments to take a new and "less callous" approach to the surge of migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea, arguing that increasingly harsh efforts to deter migration have been a failure.

Zeid Raad al-Hussein said recent deaths in the Mediterranean were "the result of a continuing failure of governance accompanied by a monumental failure of compassion". He called for the creation of a robust and well-financed European search and rescue effort, and called for the international community to set up an independent inquiry.

Zeid, the UN high commissioner for human rights, said in Geneva that Europe is turning its back on some of the world's most vulnerable migrants and risks turning the Mediterranean into "a vast cemetery".

Meanwhile, Italian prosecutor Giovanni Salvi says the smuggler's boat that sank near Libya this weekend had three levels and migrants were locked in the hull and on the second level.

Mr Salvi told a news conference in Catania, Sicily, that "a few hundred were forced into the hull and they were locked in and prevented from coming out". He said hundreds more were "closed in" at the second level, while hundreds more were on the upper deck.

One survivor of the weekend sinking, identified as a 32-year-old Bangladeshi, has put the number of people on board the smugglers' boat at as many as 950, though Salvi said that number should be treated with caution. He said the Coast Guard had estimated 700 people were on board, based on its observations at the scene.

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