Ships from several different EU countries have particpated in a rescue mission in the Mediterranean Sea. Some of the vessels were part of the bloc’s new anti-smuggling operation.
The Italian coast guard said around 1,042 migrants were rescued from overcrowded boats on Wednesday while attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea into Europe.
Vessels from Ireland, Slovenia, Britain and Germany, participated in the seven separate missions that day. Some of the ships were taking part in the EU’s new anti-smuggling operation.
The rescue comes a day after the aid group Doctors Without Borders rescued some 226 migrants from the same waters, dpa news agency reported.
Italy and Greece have found themselves overwhelmed by the number of migrants trying to sail to Europe from North Africa, although the number has decreased recently as more migrants opt for relatively safer land routes.
Tragedy at sea
Also on Wednesday, the Greek coast guard reported that at least five migrants, including several children, died after several overcrowded boats sank in the Aegean Sea.
The UN reported that around 700,000 migrants have arrived in Europe by sea this year. The majority of them – around 560,000 – have arrived in Greece.
Conflict in the Middle East – including the ongoing civil war in Syria – has driven hundreds of thousands of people from their homes to seek a better life in Europe. EU member states are torn over how to deal with the situation, and many countries have begun erecting barriers to keep refugees from crossing their borders on foot.
Recently, as a way to help alleviate some of the burden on countries such as Italy and Greece, the EU launched “Operation Sophia” to help combat migrant smuggling in the Mediterranean.
blc/jil (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)