Christmas not obstacle to refugee rescue operations

Refugee rescue operations in Italy continue despite Christmas break as refugee flow carries on

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

A rescue operation in Sicily on December 24, 2015 according to video the Italian Coast Guards (Guardia Costiera) released

The refugee flow to Italy from North Africa continues despite the Christmas weekend during which about 4,000 refugees were rescued from the sea as rescue operations carry on as normal, the Agence France Presse reported.

According to the Italian Coastguard, following the rescue operations coordinated by them, more than 3,000 people were rescued during Christmas, not including 931 people who were rescued by the Norwegian ship Siem Pilot in a European search and mission off Palermo, Sicily, on Monday.

Moreover, after the Norwegian boat’s arrival, three alleged people traffickers were arrested, Italian media reported.

"Our efforts will continue in the coming days but we can already say that 2015 has been an exceptional year," coastguard commander Admiral Vincenzo Melone said.

The Italian Coastguard posted relevant pictures from the operation scene on its Twitter account.

Italy has accepted some 320,000 refugees arriving in the country by boat since 2014. Italy is one of the worst affected countries by the refugee crisis along with Greece, which is receiving refugees coming from the Middle East via Turkey.

According to the International Organization for Migration, more than one million refugees passed to Europe this year, the majority doing so by boat.

IOM says that 3,695 have drowned or gone missing in their attempt to cross the sea this year.

TRTWorld and agencies