World Bulletin/News Desk
Italian coastguards rescued more than 350 African migrants off the small Italian island of Lampedusa over the weekend as they tried to reach European shores on rickety wooden boats, a coastguard official told Reuters on Sunday.
Last year tens of thousands of refugees and would-be migrants arrived in Lampedusa during the upheavals in North Africa, setting off a crisis that threatened to overwhelm the tiny island, but the flow has eased this year.
Coastguards rescued 231 people from sub-Saharan Africa on Saturday from a 15 metre wooden boat, including 33 women and four children, a coastguard official said.
Later on Saturday coastguards launched another rescue operation, this time involving 126 Tunisians who were on board a 10-metre-long wooden boat, the official said.
The migrants were taken to a reception centre on the island and were going through an identification process and screening to see if they had rights to asylum, he said.
Italy has borne the brunt of a wave of clandestine seaborne migration from Africa to southern Europe that has reached crisis proportions at times in the past few years.
Most migrants risk the dangerous voyage across the Mediterranean Sea in small, overcrowded fishing boats, and thousands have died as a result of shipwreck, harsh conditions at sea or lack of food and water.
Lampedusa lies south of Sicily and about 130 km (80 miles) east of Tunisia, the closest point on the north African coast.
'Having a united island at peace with itself and its neighbours will create more jobs, more prosperity. So, the solution will pay for itself,' UN envoy says
EU president believes Russian airstrikes in Syria 'are making an already very bad situation even worse'
Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein says the Working Group, although not a court, based its decision on binding international law and that Britain and Sweden should therefore abide by its findings
TIKA releases details of dozens of projects in education, infrastructure and agriculture
'I think we will take very seriously the request from Turkey and other allies to look into what NATO can do to help them cope and deal with the crisis,' NATO chief says
Russian president's spokesman believes German chancellor should carefully watch what she says on the Syrian crisis
With the latest advances, Ramadi and all its surrounding areas have been retaken from ISIL, opening a road to capital Baghdad
EU energy commissioner says the aim of the proposals 'is simple: to prevent and mitigate possible security of gas supply crises'
Lyutvi Mestan's new party to be called the Democrats for Responsibility, Freedom and Tolerance, abbreviated 'DOST' in Bulgarian
The cause of the accident near Bad Aibling, around 60 kilometres southeast of Munich, is not immediately clear
The country's bombing mission against ISIL in Iraq and Syria is set to end by February 22
A stable Libya is in the interests of the whole of the Maghreb and the whole of Europe,' European Parliament chief says
Human Rights Watch urges US president to call for ‘dismissal of politically motivated charges’ against former opposition leader when he meets Malaysian PM next week
Greece cannot protect Europe, new line of defense should be established at borders with Greece, says Hungarian PM
Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus president says he wants to see Cyprus adopt two-zone federal structure