Italy rescues 3,000 migrants in Mediterranean

Italy’s coastguard and navy coordinates rescue of 3,000 migrants after receiving requests for help from 22 vessels drifting in waters off Libya

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

3,000 migrants have been rescued near Libya coast

After receiving SOS calls from 22 vessels, the Italian coastguard has started an operation to rescue migrants stranded in the Mediterranean Sea.

Seven boats including six Italian and one from Norway were involved in a rescue operation to get up to 3,000 migrants safely off the vessels.

The navy said two navy patrol ships, the Cigala and the Vega, picked up almost 1,000 migrants from wooden boats which are about to sink after 1,200 people were rescued from five boats earlier.

Italy’s interior ministry said “Operations are continuing and it is still unclear where the people will be taken.”

The Mediterranean is one of the busiest crossing points for migrants. More than 104,000 migrants from Africa, the Middle East and South Asia have been taken in at southern ports in Italy this year after being rescued in the Mediterranean. Almost 160,000 migrants have also arrived in Greece.

The route between Libya to Italy is always preferred by migrants who are trying to enter Europe with the help of smugglers.

Six Egyptians have been arrested on suspicion of people smuggling after a rescue operation of a stricken boat on August 19, police in Palermo, Sicily reported on Saturday.

The vessel was carrying 432 people which exceeded the capacity of boat more than ten times. AFP reported that some of the migrants had to pay smugglers for breathing fresh air.

More than 2,300 migrants have died this year while they were trying to reach Europe.

Humanitarian organisations say people are trying to reach European Union countries because of the conflicts between Africa and the Middle East. They have called European governments to help migrants reach Europe crossing more safer routes.

TRTWorld and agencies