Italian coast guard rescues 53 migrants from tiny boat
Saturday, July 26, 2014 - 00:39
The Italian Coast Guard releases video of the rescue of 53 migrants of sub-Saharan origin from a dinghy in the Strait of Sicily. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
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ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION)
STORY: The Italian coast guard on Saturday (July 26) released video of the rescue of 53 migrants from a rubber dinghy in the Strait of Sicily.
The majority of the migrants, including three women, were said to be of sub-Saharan origin.
An Icelandic aircraft participating in the European Frontex border management operations spotted the migrants at sea on Friday (July 25) and informed the coast guard headquarters in Rome of their position, the coast guard said.
The migrants were transferred onto a coast guard vessel and taken to land.
Calmer summer seas have led to a surge in people trying to reach Italy from North Africa. Italy has picked up more than 85,000 migrants so far this year in its search-and-rescue mission, called "Mare Nostrum" or "Our Sea", about 20,000 more than were picked up during the whole of 2013.
Italy's navy has been patrolling the waters between Africa and Sicily since October, when 366 people drowned after their boat capsized just a mile from the Italian coast.
The number of dead is also rising. At the start of July, the UN refugee agency estimated 500 migrants had died in the Mediterranean in the past six months, compared to 700 during the whole of last year, but dead bodies have been recovered almost daily this month.
Italy is struggling to keep up with the increase in migrant boats this year and has asked the European Union for more help in rescuing and housing them.
Italy - along with Spain, Greece and Malta - have been left mostly on their own to manage the growing number of migrants, partly because increasing anti-immigrant sentiment in countries like Britain and France makes it unpopular to help out.
Over the past year, most of the migrants have been refugees fleeing Syria's civil war and Eritrea's harsh military service, according to the Interior Ministry.
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