By Libya Herald reporters.
Tripoli, 5 April 2015:
Italian coastguards have said that in the course of yesterday, they picked up around 1,500 . . .[restrict]migrants who had set off from Libya in five boats.
The safe rescue of so many migrants in less than 24 hours will have come as a blow to the Italians, who only three days ago were reporting that there had been a decline in migrant numbers in the course of March, after a year-on-year increase of 43 percent in the first two months of the year.
Italy’s parliamentary Intelligence committee (COPASIR) said on Thursday that the reduction had been due to the success of the Italian navy’s “Safe Sea” programme which, it noted, appeared to have discouraged boat departures from Libya.
Two coastguard cutters and a naval patrol boat were involved in locating the migrant boats and rescuing their passengers yesterday . According to the coastguard, three of the migrant vessels were in trouble while still in Libyan waters and had called for help using satellite phones. The other two boats were found further out at sea, as the Italian vessels answered the original distress calls.
Details of the health and nationality of the migrants have not yet been given. Some of the rescued were taken to Lampedusa while the other were sailed to Sicily. [/restrict]