Over 1500 migrants saved in major central Mediterranean operatio

Cheryl Sanders
April 19, 2017

More than 24,000 migrants arrived in Italy from Libya during the first three months of the year, up from 18,000 during the same period last year, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, said in a statement it rescued more than 1,400 migrants in the central Mediterranean in 13 search and rescue operations from Friday to Sunday.

MSF said in a tweet that one teenager was found dead in a rubber boat whose passengers were rescued by its ship Aquarius.

Italian Coast Guard organised a rescue operation over Easter weekend to save those spilling off crowded boats and stranded at sea.

The International Organization of Migration says 666 people have been logged as dead or missing off the Libyan coast so far this year out of an estimated 27,000 who have tried to reach Italy from Libya. Over the busy weekend, Frontex says the Norwegian Siem Pilot, now on rotation for Frontex's Triton program, rescued more than 500 of the almost 7,000 people pulled to safety.

"This weekend is set to be the latest marker in the record-breaking escalation of this ongoing humanitarian crisis at sea", Moas said.

Since Saturday, the Malta-based Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) said it has been involved in the "unprecedented" rescue and assistance of nine boats containing as many as 1,800 people.

So far this year, about 29,000 migrants, a lot of them fleeing poverty in sub-Saharan Africa, have arrived in Italy after being rescued by European military ships or private charity organizations.

On Saturday, the coastguard and five privately run rescue boats plucked migrants from 16 overcrowded dinghies and three wooden vessels packed with people hoping to make a new life for themselves in Europe. Find us on Facebook too!

A rescue ship on Saturday brought 504 migrants and one corpse to Pozzallo, Sicily, and while another boat brought about 500 other migrants to Augusta, Sicily. Probably the same. How many would have died? On Sunday, 649 people rescued in a number of operations by the MSF Prudence arrived in Reggio Calabria.

Other reports by iNewsToday