More than 1,400 migrants rescued in Mediterranean near Libya

Italian and French authorities say they rescued more than 1,400 migrants in several operations near Libya

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Italian and French ships rescued more than 1,400 migrants in the Mediterranean Sea off Libyan coast on Saturday.

Italian coast guard and navy ships took around 1,200 migrants from troubled smugglers’ ships in several operation near Libya.

Rescued migrants were transferred to Italian port cities, the officials said.

In a separate French operation, 217 more migrants, reportedly from Sub-Saharan Africa, traveling in three rubber dinghies were rescued by a patrol boat in the seas north of Libya and handed over to Italian authorities, the Maritime Prefecture in Toulon said.

The French officials also detained two suspected smugglers in the operation and turned over to Italian authorities.

The operations came after an April 23 decision by EUropean Union to increase patrols in the Mediterranean Sea against human trafficking, following death of more than 800 migrants on April 20 when an overcrowded boat capsized in the sea between Italy and Libya.

More than 5,000 migrants died drawning since the start of this year as the humanitarian situation in the Middle East and Africa continues to urge people to leave their homelands in hope of a new life in the west.

The European Union detected more than 280,000 illegal border crossings in 2014 while more than 170,000 migrants came crossing the Mediterranean Sea, almost quadrupling the number from a year earlier.

TRTWorld and agencies