The Naval Service is edging close to rescuing 9,000 migrants after the latest mission by the crew of LÉ Róisín resulted in a further 395 people being picked up in the Mediterranean Sea, including 15 children.
Last year three navy ships rescued 8,592 people during the course of their humanitarian missions off the coast of Libya. The numbers are continuing to mount since LÉ Róisín arrived to participate in the resumption of rescue operations this year.
LÉ Róisín’s first rescue mission started at 7.31am yesterday, when Italian coastguard officials spotted a wooden barge crammed with migrants some 39 nautical miles north-west of Libyan capital Tripoli.
By 12.24pm she had brought onboard 207 men, 52 women, and 15 children.
As they were being given food and water, the LÉ Róisín crew received word that the Italian authorities had spotted an inflatable dinghy 10 miles nearer the Libyan coast.
The ship raced to the scene where she picked up a further 95 men and 26 women.
Both the wooden barge and dinghy were destroyed by LÉ Róisín’s crew as they were a danger to other shipping using the area and they didn’t want them to fall back into the hands of people-smugglers.
During her first operation on Monday, May 16, the ship rescued 125 migrants in the same area of operations from another dinghy.
LÉ Róisín is expected to take all migrants to an Italian port where they will be handed over for processing by the Italian authorities.
As the weather improves in the Mediterranean Sea, people-smugglers are launching even more migrant boats, many of which are totally unseaworthy.
Yesterday search and rescue teams from the medical humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) also rescued 788 people from unseaworthy boats in six rescue operations in the central Mediterranean Sea.
MSF director Jane-Ann McKenna said crises and conflicts across the world continue to cause people to flee in their millions.
“Refugees and migrants are looking for a safer or better life. It is not acceptable to treat them as criminals, or worse, let them die in their search for it,” said Ms McKenna.
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