Italian Navy Rescues Over 1000 Migrants

Written by | Friday, January 3rd, 2014

Over 1,000 migrants have been rescued by Italian Navy during the past 24 hours from makeshift boats in distress trying to reach the European Eldorado, despite high seas dangers.
Navy helicopters spotted four overcrowded boats struggling to stay afloat south of Sicily on Thursday and rescue ships were sent to save them, the navy said in a statement.
The 823 men, women and children aboard the four vessels were from countries including Egypt, Pakistan, Iraq and Tunisia.
The navy also rescued 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.
Following an October shipwreck – in which 366 Eritrean migrants drowned off the Italian island of Lampedusa – Italy launched a special operation combining ships, helicopters and drones to monitor the Mediterranean Sea.
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 received migrant flows and have urged a coordinated European Union response.
Following the Lampedusa tragedy, the EU increased financial support for member states mostly affected by migration. The Union also decided to improve border surveillance along EU’s frontiers through the deployment of its new, pan-European virtual watchtower system, the European Border Surveillance System (Eurosur).
This $332 million system allows real-time information exchange and cooperation between national border agencies, enabling border agencies to better spot smaller maritime vessels and respond to incidents.

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