Sunday

23rd Apr 2017

Mediterranean rescuers save 6,500 migrants in one day

  • The IOM estimates some 275,000 people are waiting to leave for the EU from Libya (Photo: Sebastia Giralt)

One of the largest rescue operations in recent years unfolded on Monday (29 August) when some 6,500 people were scooped from the Mediterranean.

The Italian Coast Guard said in a tweet it had helped coordinate 40 rescue missions around 20km off the Libyan coastline.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

“We’ve been particularly busy today,” a spokesman for the coastguard told AFP.

The majority of the rescued migrants are said to be from places like Eritrea and Somalia. Children and babies, one just five days old, were among those rescued.

One rescue operator from Proactiva Open Arms, a Spanish charity, tweeted that the 6,500 were plucked from one large boat, four small wooden boats, and 19 rubber boats.

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said the large boat contained up to 700 people.

Monday's rescues were carried by MSF, Proactiva Open Arms, the EU's border agency Frontex and the Italian navy.

The people have been taken to Italy to have their claims reviewed and processed.

Another 1,100 had been rescued on Sunday, also off the same Libyan coastline.

The sudden spike is due, in part, to the calm seas and warm weather.

It also points to broader issues of people fleeing persecution and conflict as well as the EU's struggle to smash the migrant smuggling cartels that operate in Libya.

Sophia, the EU's anti migrant-smuggling naval operation, had seized over 220 boats as of last October and delivered 82 suspected smugglers to Italian authorities. It has also helped in over 130 rescue efforts.

EU foreign ministers earlier this year had also expanded tasks run by Sophia to include training Libyan coastguard and navy. And Nato has also become more present in the area.

But the conflict-ridden country remains one of the main staging points for people hoping to reach Europe.

The Geneva-based International Organisation for Migration (IOM) says over 106,000 people have so far this year reached Italy. It estimates another 275,000 are waiting to disembark from Libya.

The high number of arrivals from the north African coast stands in contrast to the sharp drop in Greece from Turkey along the so-called Eastern Mediterranean route.

However, the Greek islands are now also registering an increase following the failed military coup in Turkey.

Greek authorities on Monday said the islands now host some 12,000 people, reports Kathimerini.

More than 3,000 people have died in their efforts to reach the EU by crossing the Mediterranean this year. The figure is a 50 percent increase compared with last year.

Fewer refugees to be relocated as EU revises targets

An initial plan to relocate 160,000, which was later amended to 98,000, now appears to drop even further after the European Commission said the new objective was to dispatch only eligible asylum seekers from Italy and Greece.

EU stands aside as Hungary detains migrants

Commission is withholding action on Hungary's detention of asylum seekers, even as the Hungarian government tries to "stop Brussels" on immigration policy.

Austria wants out of EU migrant relocations

Austria is required to start relocating asylum seekers from Italy and Greece after an exemption to the scheme ended on 11 March. But Austria's chancellor has other ideas and wants the exemption prolonged.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  2. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  3. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  4. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  5. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  6. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  7. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region and the US: A Time of Warlike Rhetoric and Militarisation?
  9. European Free AllianceEFA MEPs Vote in Favor of European Parliament's Brexit Mandate
  10. Mission of China to the EUXinhua Insight: China to Open up Like Never Before
  11. World VisionViolence Becomes New Normal for Syrian Children
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsTime to Turn the Tide and End Repression of Central Asia's Civil Society

Latest News

  1. France holds nail-biting 'anti-system' vote
  2. Le Pen-Putin friendship goes back a long way
  3. Mogherini should tell Russians their rights matter
  4. Le Pens Freunde aus dem Trump Tower
  5. Sexe et mensonges: l'information russe sur l'UE
  6. Report: Post-Brexit payments, ECJ jurisdiction could last years
  7. Oxford study raises alarm on 'junk' news in France
  8. Thousands to march in defence of science