Baby girl born at sea among over 6,500 migrants rescued

Baby girl born at sea among over 6,500 migrants rescued

CaptureA baby girl born soon after her mother was rescued was among a record 6,551 migrants rescued over the weekend in the Mediterranean in 34 separate operations, the Italian Coast Guard said on Monday.

An Italian navy vessel plucked the mother from waters in the Strait of Sicily and her baby girl was safely delivered on the rescuers’ tugboat overnight. Both were “in good health”, the Italian navy said on Monday.

At least 10 bodies were recovered during the interventions at the weekend and navy medical staff also certified the death of two rescued migrants.

The Italian Coast Guard, which coordinates at-sea rescues, said that 2,861 people were picked up on Sunday in 17 operations, adding to Saturday’s 17 interventions which saved 3,690 people.

The UN refugee agency fears over 1,750 people have already lost their lives in the Mediterranean this year — 30 times more than in the same period of 2014 — amid a surge in migrant crossings.

The Mediterranean is considered the world’s most dangerous sea migration route.

One out of every 23 migrants who set sail from North Africa between January and March perished on the journey, an April report from Amnesty International showed.

The UN, the European Parliament and Amnesty in April urged the European Union executive to expand its limited border patrol operation Triton and carry out search and rescue operations off the Libyan coasts where most deaths are occurring.

The issue gained new urgency on April 19, when up to 950 people are believed to have died in a shipwreck 80 nautical miles north of Libya.

EU leaders subsequently pledged to expand Triton’s funding and assets but not its operating area. The leaders also agreed to crack down on smuggling networks, but did not agree on the number of refugees and legal migrants the bloc would accept or on a long-term strategy to end the current crisis.

If the migrant crisis continues unabated, there could be 30,000 deaths at sea this year and Italy will have to handle 200,000 would-be asylum-seekers landing on its soil, aid groups predict.

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