Humanitarian ships rescue more than 700 migrants in Mediterranean
ROME - ReutersHumanitarian groups operating rescue ships off the coast of Libya picked up more than 700 migrants out of seven flimsy and overcrowded boats on April 5, the Italian Coast Guard said.
The Phoenix rescue ship, operated by the Malta-based non-governmental organization MOAS, rescued more than 300 people from three boats in international waters off the coast of the Libyan city of Sabratha.
The Aquarius, operated by SOS Mediterranee and Doctors without Borders, went to the aid of four rubber boats carrying around 400 people, a coast guard spokesman said. The Italian Coast Guard coordinated the rescues.
Migrants arriving in Italy on boats from North Africa are up some 30 percent so far this year, according to official data released last week.
Some 600 people have died trying to reach Italy this year, said the International Organization for Migration (IOM). No bodies were found on April 5, the coast guard said.
These rescues came a few days after the Italian government said April 2 that dozens of rival tribes in southern Libya had agreed to cooperate on securing the country’s borders in an effort to curb the influx of migrants trying to reach Europe.
The Italian Interior Ministry said the 60 tribal leaders - notably the Tuareg of the southwest, the Toubou of the southeast, and the Arab tribe of Awlad Suleiman – had reached the 12-point deal after 72 hours of secret talks in Rome.
A representative from Libya’s U.N.-backed Government of National Accord, which is based in Tripoli and controls western Libya, was also present.
“A Libyan border patrol unit will be operational to monitor Libya’s southern border of 5,000 kilometers,” Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti told Italy’s La Stampa newspaper, one of several Italian media outlets reporting on the deal.