Over 5,000 Migrants Saved in a Single Week in Italy

Written by | Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

Since last Thursday (June 5), in less than a week, Italy has managed to rescue about 5,200 migrants trying to flee their African homeland and embark on the shores of Europe. Migrants included men, women, and children, most of whom are believed to originate in North African countries. Italian merchant ships and a Maltese vessel also recovered three bodies from one of the migrant boats. The surge in migrants’ arrivals is putting the capacity of Italy’s naval mission – Mare Nostrum (Our Sea) – under serious pressure. The mission’s main task is to patrol the waters between Africa and Italy on its own, but the mission’s leadership has already prompted local officials in Sicily to call for more help and support from the European Union (EU).
Italy has called over again for European Member States to lend a helping hand and join Mare Nostrum – Europe’s biggest search and rescue mission, but so far only Slovenia responded to Italy’s request. Last year, Ljubljana offered one ship for two months. Although the EU pledged 30 million euro in emergency funding last year when 366 migrants drowned after their boat had capsized, most of the money is targeted at migration facilities already on land instead of the prevention of illegal migration and a greater marine supervision of the Mediterranean Sea. The fact that this year’s migrant numbers have already reached the total numbers for the whole year 2013 is a clear proof that the safeguarding of Italy’s Mediterranean coastline needs more support and funding. Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has already urged the United Nations to intervene in Libya where criminal syndicates sell a spot on risky boats for more than 1,000 USD. In fact, two thirds of the migrants come from Libya and other mostly conflict-torn North African countries and the pace of their arrivals is estimated to soon exceed the record of 62,000 during the peak of the Arab Spring.

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