1,400 saved near Libya as refugee arrivals hit high

Italian, Irish and charity group ships, along with commercial vessels, helped rescue the refugees from 11 inflatable dinghies and two small boats. 

1,400 saved near Libya as refugee arrivals hit high

World Bulletin / News Desk

Rescuers saved some 1,400 refugees off the coast of Libya on Monday as Italy announced a record number of people arriving this year after crossing the Mediterranean, authorities said.

"It was a very difficult day but thanks to the work of the units that helped out, all of the refugees were rescued," a spokesman for the Italian coast guard, which coordinates the operations, told AFP.

The unseaworthy condition of the refugee boats and the sheer number of people packed onto them make the journey dangerous even in summer, but colder months add increased risk of hypothermia and rough seas. 

Authorities in Italy said Monday they had recorded a record number of arrivals by sea this year, with one month still to go in 2016.

Over 171,000 refugees have arrived, which beats the previous annual record of 170,100 from 2014. The tally does not include Monday's rescues. 

The vast majority of the refugees landing in Italy come from Africa and begin their sea crossings from Libya, typically paying traffickers several hundred dollars for the journey.

With Italy's neighbours having tightened their borders, the numbers being housed in reception facilities across the country have risen to an unprecedented total of over 176,000, prompting howls of protest from some local authorities.

Many refugees arrive in Italy with the intention of travelling north, often to try and rejoin relatives, with Germany and Sweden among the popular destinations.

At least 4,690 refugees are confirmed to have died or disappeared in the Mediterranean so far this year, according to counts by the International Organisation for Migration and the UN refugee agency.

afp

Last Mod: 29 Kasım 2016, 09:34
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