Rescued Migrants Off The Coast Of Libya

It’s been a hair-raising weekend for Italy’s Coastguard. Together with the Maltese government, they have saved a remarkable 5,600 people who were attempting to make their way to the European Union. That number is unprecedented, says Italian officials, and it is likely to rise as the spring season gives individuals a better opportunity to cross the Mediterranean Sea. Often, rescued migrants are taken into Italy aboard the Coastguards’ ships. On Sunday alone there were twenty-three boats recovered.

Tragically, the situation for many of these migrants is beyond desperate. Late Sunday the Italian Coastguard found a capsized ship with nine dead confirmed. The remaining people who were aboard the ship were rescued, included a pregnant woman who was flown into Malta for emergency care. Not everyone is as fortunate, a group of three hundred refugees fleeing from Africa drowned in the cold Mediterranean waters earlier this year. According to Frontex, a European Union Agency, the number of illegal immigrant has tripled to 275,000 in 2014, the vast majority of them through the Mediterranean Sea.

Rescued Migrants Off The Coast Of Libya - Clapway

In addition to the aforementioned boat, the Italian Coastguard estimates that there may be more than one thousand migrants floating in the Sea. The conditions are hazardous, as smugglers typically use derelict old boats to maximize profit at the expense of the migrants. Many are from war torn zones such as Somalia and the Sudan. There has also been a recent influx of refugees from Syria due to the ongoing civil war.

Libya, which is situation along the North African coast, is seen as a jumping off point for many of the migrants, who pay smugglers in their home countries to take them there. At that point, they are stuffed into dinghies, where the smugglers try to get out of Libyan waters to transfer the migrants to larger boats. The dinghies themselves are often not capable of staying afloat for more than a day or two at best. Many of the migrants are women and children and often they lack basic necessities such as food and water. Tensions remain tight between E.U. countries and non-E.U. members that do little to stop the transmission of migrants. Frontex has also come under criticism for focusing on deterrence of immigrants rather than rescue operations, which often fall to individual countries and organizations.

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