In-pics: Nearly 3,000 migrants rescued off Libya coast, says NGO | world-news | Hindustan Times
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In-pics: Nearly 3,000 migrants rescued off Libya coast, says NGO

So far this year, some 29,000 migrants, most of them fleeing poverty in sub-Saharan Africa, have arrived in Italy after being rescued by European military ships or private charity organizations.

world Updated: Apr 16, 2017 09:52 IST
Migrants on a wooden boat await rescue by the Malta-based NGO Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) in the central Mediterranean in international waters off the coast of Sabratha in Libya, April 15.
Migrants on a wooden boat await rescue by the Malta-based NGO Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) in the central Mediterranean in international waters off the coast of Sabratha in Libya, April 15.(REUTERS)

The Italian coastguard and other boats rescued some 3,000 migrants from unseaworthy boats off the Libyan coast on Saturday, as the good weather pushes the numbers up, a participating NGO said.

In all 35 rescue operations were launched during the day, with 15 of them still underway as night fell, the coastguard said.

German NGO Jugend Rettet, which took part in the rescue operations on Saturday, said 3,000 people had been plucked to safety during a particularly busy day due to the fine Spring weather in the Mediterranean.

Migrants on a wooden boat are rescued by the Malta-based NGO Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) in the central Mediterranean in international waters off the coast of Sabratha in Libya on April 15. (REUTERS)

Jugend Rettet spokeswoman Pauline Schmidt told AFP that a further 1,000 people remained to be rescued from inflatable dinghies and other craft, with the rescue ships reaching capacity.

Other, mainly non-governmental, boats were expected to arrive in the area to help the rescue operations, she said. “We have never had to deal with so many people at the same time.”

On Friday rescue vessels worked flat out to rescue over 2,000 people from flimsy dinghies.

A migrant carries her baby on board a rigid-hulled inflatable boat (RHIB) of the Malta-based NGO Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) during a rescue operation from a wooden boat in the central Mediterranean in international waters off the coast of Sabratha in Libya, April 15. (REUTERS)

The Italian coast guard and five privately-run rescue boats plucked migrants from 16 overcrowded dinghies and three wooden vessels packed with people hoping to make a new life for themselves in Europe.

EU’s border control agency Frontex has accused donor-funded vessels of doing more harm than good by sailing off Libya and acting “like taxis”, and Italian prosecutors have suggested they may have links with traffickers -- a charge they have fiercely denied.

Migrants on a rubber dinghy await rescue by the Malta-based NGO Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) in the central Mediterranean in international waters off the coast of Sabratha in Libya, April 15. (REUTERS)

Distressing images of African migrants being plucked from heaving seas or the coffin-strewn aftermath of major sinkings have become a regular feature of television news bulletins since the crisis began spiralling out of control four years ago.

So far this year 666 people have been logged as dead or missing off the Libyan coast.

Migrants rest on the Malta-based NGO Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) ship Phoenix after being rescued from a rubber dinghy in the central Mediterranean in international waters off the coast of Sabratha in Libya, April 15. (REUTERS)

However that figure is well down on the death rate seen last year when more than 5,000 people perished, according to the International Organization of Migration