Italian Authorities Saved the Lives of 2,164 Refugees

World | February 16, 2015, Monday // 10:51|  views

A boat carrying African migrants arrive on southern Italian island of Lampedusa, May 2011. Photo by EPA/BGNES

A total of 2,164 refugees coming from Libya who attempted to cross the Mediterranean by boats have been rescued close to the Italian island of Lampedusa.

Several lives were lost and the cause has largely been hypothermia. Since the beginning of the year, 300 people have drowned attempting to cross the sea through the smuggling scheme. 

The announcement was made in Italian media, quoting the reports of the rescue units of the Italian coastguard services.
In 2014, the number of people who risked their lives in order to escape their home countries rose to 218,000 people, with 3,500 deaths along the way.

Following the conflicts in the Middle East and Africa, the number of illegal refugees increased with most of them coming from Syria and the Horn of Africa.

After a previous tragic accident off the coast of Italy in 2013, the Mare Nostrum operation was launched, saving tens of thousands of people, as stated by the United Nations Higher Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).

The program was however discontinued over the past year and as UNHCR pointed out, no alternative has been proposed.

UNHCR has been calling on governments for preventative measures against the dangerous practices. Additionally, the organization pointed out that private sponsorship schemes, student and employment visas and other programs should be launched to benefit refugees and their families.

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Tags: Lampedusa, Italy, UNHCR, refugees, Libiya, Mare Nostrum, Syria, Middle East, Africa


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