By Emma Emeozor
Five-day-old twins were among 6,500 refugees and migrants rescued yesterday off the Libyan coast while attempting to reach Italy via the Mediterranean Sea.
The twins were traveling with their mother before they were rescued by Italian coastguard and airlifted to an Italian hospital, according to Médecins Sans Frontières’ (MSF) also known as Doctors without borders, which took part in the operations.
MSF ship Dignity 1 and the Spanish humanitarian group Proactiva Open Arms rescued the refugees and migrants believed to be mostly from Somalia and Eritrea, who were aboard 15 rubber boats and one wooden vessel. As many as 3,000 of the migrants were rescued off the coast of Libya by MSF, Proactiva Open Arms and Italian coast guard crews and one rescue took place in Maltese waters.
London Telegraph said a total of 40 different rescue operations were responsible for bringing in the 6,500 migrants and refugees, including European Union’s Marine mission “Sophia,” which fights smugglers; and Frontex, the European Agency tasked with border security.
CNN quoted Italian coastguard as saying the rescued migrants were being taken to ports in Calabria and Sicily.
Just two weeks ago, in the week that started August 14, the route was used by 2,197 migrants, according to the International Organization for Migration.
Yesterday’s efforts for one of the largest influxes of refugees in a single day this year showed people wearing life jackets jumping off one of the boats and into the Mediterranean before swimming towards rescuers.
Data released on Friday by the International Organisation for Migration said more than 100,000 migrants and refugees had reached Italy by boat this year, many of them setting sail from Libya. An estimated 2,726 men, women and children have died over the same period trying to make the journey, an increase of about 50 percent on the same period in 2015. Italy has been on the frontline of Europe’s refugee and migrant crisis for three years.