Hundreds of migrants rescued off Libyan coast


The Italian coastguard has rescued 228 migrants off the Libyan coast in the Mediterranean Sea.

Reports said 38 women and one child were rescued in Friday’s recovery effort. Those rescued were transferred to a navy boat that was patrolling in the area.

Separately, 80 people were rescued by Tunisian fishermen and taken to the coastal town of Zarzis in Tunisia.

The latest rescue efforts  come after a tragic accident off the Catania coast in Italy  just days ago , in which more than 800 people died.

Separately, an Italian court ordered two suspects behind the trafficking racket blamed for the accident to remain in jail.

INSIDE STORY: Libya’s lawlessness and Mediterranean migrant crisis

Mohammed Ali Malek, the boat’s 27-year-old Tunisian captain, and Mahmud Bikhit, a 25-year-old Syrian crew member, face charges of multiple manslaughter and aiding illegal immigration.

Malek maintains he was only a passenger on the overcrowded boat while others accuse him of being the boat’s captain.

Speaking to Al Jazeera’s Barnaby Phillips, Guilia Chiarenza, who works for the Italian nongovernmental organisation Emergency, said the situation is dire.

“We’re very sad. We are fed up. We cannot stand this terrible news – people dying at sea. It’s crazy. People should have the right to move, to ask for asylum – not to die just to escape from poverty,” she said.

Stating that Cantana receives an average of over 300 migrants every week, Marco Jan Lio, deputy mayor of the city, said: “The migration problem tops all other European problems.”

Emmanuel Agius, deputy mayor of Calais, the major ferry port in northern France, said: “There is no other problem like this. We need to take time to review the operation of the Schengen visa because it doesn’t give a decent way for European countries to cope with the migrant problem.”

On Thursday EU leaders agreed to triple funding of its naval search mission in the Mediterranean Sea back to the 2014 level of $130m.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies


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