By Libya Herald staff.
Tripoli, 17 February 2015:
Over 1600 migrants were rescued from the Mediterranean over the weekend after setting out from . . .[restrict]Libya in a dozen boats that were ill-equipped for the dangerous crossing.
The International Organization of Migration (IOM) reported that the migrants launched from Libya’s shores last Tuesday. Rescues by the EU’s coastal border control, Triton, began on Friday as Italian Coast Guard and other boats began encountering the boats dead in the water.
Over the next three days hundreds were rescued and taken to processing centres on Lampedusa and in Sicily.
Last week over 300 died in the crossing after attempting it on inflatable rubber dinghies carrying over 100 migrants each.
IOM is concerned that the numbers of both rescues and deaths will continue to rise in the coming months. Last year saw unprecedented numbers of mostly Sub-Saharan, East African and Syrian migrants making the dangerous journey. Last month’s number was higher than for the same period in 2014. And with Libya descending into even more violent conflict, migrants are more desperate than ever to leave.
The IOM has said that Triton simply does not have the capability to handle such large numbers of rescues. In the past it has dsapproved of the ending of the former, and much larger, rescue program Operation Mare Nostrum.
“The current Triton patrols in the Mediterranean are clearly inadequate in the face of this situation,” said IOM Director General William Lacy Swing. “It is necessary to establish immediately a rescue system on the high seas that can respond to this emergency effectively to save migrants off Libya’s coast.”
After the shocking video of IS militants executing 21 Egyptian Christians on Libya’s beaches, Italy and other European nations have expressed concern that IS has now reached Europe’s doorstep. There is reasonable concern that IS militants will be able to infiltrate Italy, and thus Europe, by making the sea crossing. [/restrict]