Italy res­cues 6 500 refugees from Mediter­ranean

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

AROUND 6 500 refugees and mi­grants were saved off the Libyan coast in 40 sep­a­rate res­cue mis­sions by the Ital­ian coast­guard.

Mon­day’s ef­forts for one of the largest in­fluxes of refugees in a sin­gle day this year showed peo­ple wear­ing life jack­ets jump­ing off one of the boats and into the Mediter­ranean be­fore swim­ming to­wards res­cuers.

The refugees, be­lieved to be mostly from So­ma­lia and Eritrea, were on flimsy rub­ber dinghies that be­come highly un­sta­ble in high seas.

“The com­mand cen­tre co­or­di­nated 40 res­cue op­er­a­tions” that in­cluded ves­sels from Italy, hu­man­i­tar­ian or­gan­i­sa­tions as well as the Euro­pean Union’s bor­der agency Fron­tex, and “saved 6 500” mi­grants and refugees, the coast­guard wrote on Twit­ter.

Five-day-old twins were was among those res­cued and air­lifted to an Ital­ian hospi­tal, ac­cord­ing to Doc­tors With­out Bor­ders, which took part in the op­er­a­tions.

On Sun­day, more than 1 100 peo­ple were res­cued in the same area.

Data re­leased on Fri­day by the In­ter­na­tional Or­gan­i­sa­tion for Mi­gra­tion said more than 100 000 mi­grants and refugees had reached Italy by boat this year, many of them set­ting sail from Libya.

An es­ti­mated 2,726 men, women and chil­dren have died over the same pe­riod try­ing to make the jour­ney, an in­crease of about 50 per­cent on the same pe­riod in 2015. Italy has been on the front­line of Europe’s refugee and mi­grant cri­sis for three years.

More than more than 400 000 have suc­cess­fully made the voy­age to Italy from North Africa since the be­gin­ning of 2014, flee­ing vi­o­lence and poverty.

Ac­cord­ing to AFP news agency, there are about a dozen ves­sels run by hu­man­i­tar­ian groups that pa­trol the waters off the Libyan coast, but ten­sions in the zone have flared re­cently as ri­val fac­tions bat­tle to con­trol mi­grant traf­fick­ing. — Aljazeera.

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