Friday, 20 October, 2017

Italy rescues 3000 migrants as arrivals surge

In this frame grab taken Monday Aug. 29 2016 from video 5-day-old twins from Eritrea who were born prematurely in Libya are seen after being rescued from the Mediterranean Sea by members of two NGO's and the Italian navy. The two Eritrean babies are Italy rescues 3000 migrants as arrivals surge
Melinda Barton | 01 September, 2016, 14:14

Italy's coastguard said earlier today that they had rescued nearly 12,500 people since Sunday.

Italian navy and coastguard boats were also in action along with a merchant tugboat that happened to be in the area. One of the vessels helping is the Phoenix, which has rescued more than 400 migrants today.

About 3,000 migrants were picked up Tuesday from the central Mediterranean, the Italian coast guard said, raising the rescue tally over the previous 48 hours to about 10,000 people.

Five-day-old twins were among the thousands of refugees and migrants saved in the Mediterranean Sea on Monday. Despite the increase in migrants making the risky cross to Italy and other European countries, the numbers are said to be a little less compared to the same period a year ago.

Political instability in Libya has seen the country emerge as a hub for trafficking, but the large number of migrants rescued is indicative of a worldwide refugee crisis as more and more people escape war in parts of Africa and Asia.

According to Interior Ministry figures, a total of 112,097 people had landed at Italian ports by Wednesday morning, compared with 116,149 for the same period in 2015.

Since border controls were tightened earlier this year along the so-called Balkan route, connecting Turkey to Austria, Italy has replaced Greece as the main entry point for Europe-bound migrants from Africa, the Middle East and beyond.

In fact, as the European Union struck a deal with Turkey to prevent migrants from crossing over to Greece and Balkan nations closed their borders to migrants, an alternative route - particularly for migrants from Somalia and Eritrea - from Libya into Italy is emerging. "If it's not a record, then it's close to it", said International Organization for Migration (IOM) spokesman Flavio Di Giacomo.

Italy is preparing to register thousands more in the next few days but the biggest problem could be finding the migrants a place to stay. Rights groups and experts estimate that there are about 3,500 migrants in roughly 20 official detention facilities across Libya, whereas others are held in informal detention centers controlled by criminal gangs or armed groups, leading to outrage amongst rights groups.