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Monday, 06 January 2014

Italian navy rescues over 1,000 migrants in 24 hours

The Italian navy said on Friday 3 January 2014 it had rescued over 1,000 migrants in 24 hours in the Mediterranean Sea from boats attempting to reach Europe, as an immigration crisis that killed hundreds in the last year showed no signs of easing.
In a statement issued on Friday, the navy said that its helicopters located four overcrowded boats in Mediterranean waters south of the Italian island of Sicily on Thursday and ships were sent to rescue the migrants. Six military boats participated in the major operation to save the lives of thousands of mostly African migrants heading for Europe in flimsy boats. Some 823 migrants, mainly from Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan and Tunisia, were rescued on Thursday .The navy also helped 233 migrants from Eritrea, Nigeria, Somalia, Zambia, Mali and Pakistan in a separate operation and took them to a port near Syracuse on Sicily's eastern coast.
After the shipwreck in October in which 363 immigrants died off the Italian island of Lampedusa, Italy has launched a major operation called "Mare Nostrum" mobilizing warships, amphibious vessels and aircraft, to monitor the Mediterranean Sea.
According to the defense minister, three navy ships and 410 marines, two night-vision planes, four helicopters, two custom agency ships, and four coast guard patrol boats have been deployed in the Mediterranean Sea to deal with the latest waves of refugees and migrants arriving on its coasts.
Italy is a major gateway into Europe for many migrants seeking a better life, and sea arrivals to the country from Northern Africa more than tripled in 2013, fuelled by refugees in Syria's civil war and strife in the Horn of Africa. Over the past two decades, Italy, Greece and the Mediterranean island of Malta have struggled to deal with the migrant flows and have urged for a coordinated European Union response system.

Source: Presstv.ir and EurActiv

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