herald

Saturday 10 December 2016

Italians save 5,800 migrants in48 hours

refugees

Nearly 5,800 migrants were plucked from boats off the coast of Libya and 10 bodies were recovered in less than 48 hours, Italy's coast guard said.

Two weeks after nearly 900 boat people drowned in the worst Mediterranean shipwreck in living memory, the flow of people desperate to reach a better life in Europe has accelerated as people smugglers take advantage of calmer seas.

Seven bodies were found on two large rubber boats packed with migrants and rescuers plucked from the sea the corpses of three others who had jumped into the water.

Separately, authorities in Egypt said that three people died when a migrant boat attempting to reach Greece sank off its coast. Thirty-one people were rescued.

Growing lawlessness and anarchy in Libya is giving free hand to people smugglers who make an average of €80,000 from each boatload.

rescued

Those rescued in the Italian operation were being brought to Italian shores, some already arriving at Lampedusa, Italy's southernmost island, and others at Trapani, Sicily.

Shocked by last month's record disaster, EU leaders agreed to triple funding for the sea patrol mission Triton, but there is still disagreement on what to do with the people fleeing conflict and poverty in various parts of Africa and the Middle East.

Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann said that the EU should set up a quota system whereby member countries agree to take in more refugees to relieve some of the pressure on Italy, Greece and Malta.

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