donderdag, februari 06, 2014

Italy rescues more than 1,100 migrants south of Sicily. Who pays the ferryman?

Rescue operation comes months after 2 shipwrecks claimed lives of nearly 600 migrants


The Italian navy has rescued more than 1,100 migrants from nine large rafts in the waters south of Sicily, the latest arrivals from North Africa.

Patrol helicopters identified the overcrowded rafts on Wednesday and four navy vessels participated in the rescue which ended early on Thursday, a statement said. The navy gave no details about the nationalities of the migrants.
Italy is a major gateway into Europe for migrants, and sea arrivals more than tripled in 2013 from the previous year, fuelled by Syria's civil war and strife in the Horn of Africa.

In October, 366 Eritreans drowned in a shipwreck near the shore of the Italian island of Lampedusa, which is located about halfway between Sicily and Tunisia. More than 200, mostly Syrians, died in another shipwreck a week later.

Over the past two decades, Italy, Greece and the Mediterranean island of Malta have borne the brunt of migrant flows and have urged the EU to make a more robust and coordinated response.

Officials believe the asylum seekers were from sub-Saharan Africa. About 50 children were on board.
All of the passengers are en route to the port of Augusta, were they are expected to arrive Friday.

 Meanwhile, Moroccan authorities say emergency services have recovered the bodies of seven people who drowned after attempting to swim to the Spanish enclave of Ceuta. Authorities told the state news agency that at least 200 migrants tried to swim to the enclave, which is on a peninsula jutting out from the Moroccan shore.

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