Saturday 17 March 2018

Over 2000 refugees plucked from the Mediterranean on Thursday, says Italian navy

A young refugee girl is carried by a volunteer off a vessel Muhammed Muheisen (AP)
A young refugee girl is carried by a volunteer off a vessel Muhammed Muheisen (AP)

David Kearns

Some 2,000 refugees have been rescued off the Libyan coast in dozen separate operations, the Italian navy said on Thursday

The migrants were plucked from eight inflatables and three small wooden boats by units from the Italian coastguard and navy.

A boat chartered by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) along with two other vessels patrolling for people smugglers also aided in the rescue efforts.

According to AFP bad weather had hampered attempts to reach the nearly 460 migrants floating off the Libyan coast this morning.

The Italian coastguard said the rescues took place after the command centre in Rome received calls for help by a satellite phone  on-board one of the vessels.

Four dinghies with a total of 458 migrants were intercepted by the coast guard, while another 300 migrants were picked up from three other dinghies by the Italian navy on route.

Spanish frigate Canarias and Britain's Enterprise, both deployed under the European Union’s anti-smuggling operation ‘Sophia’, picked up 286 and 416 migrants respectively from two boats, while MSF's Bourbon Argos saved 428 migrants from a boat and 96 from a dinghy.

The rescues follow a lull in the number of migrants trying to reach Europe from North Africa.

Bad weather has reduced the summer high of 760 people a day to less than 4400 in the last ten days.

The International Organisation for Migration has estimated that nearly 860,000 migrants have landed in Europe so far this year.

Online Editors

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News