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600 migrants rescued off Libya coast

15 February 2015 12:21

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The Italian coast guard has rescued over 600 migrants who sought help on their packed rubber boats near the Libyan coast.

Two merchant ships as well as an Italian coast guard vessel went to the rescue of the migrants after receiving calls for help through satellite phone.

The rescue vessels found six boats drifting about 50 miles (80 kilometers) from the coast of Libya.

Earlier this week, around 700 other migrants were saved from overfull boats while last week over 300 people lost their lives while trying to reach Europe.

UN’s call for further border ops.

Following last week’s incident, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reiterated its call on Europe to reconsider its border operations, which lack a clear directive with regard to saving migrant lives.

“This is a tragedy on an enormous scale and a stark reminder that more lives could be lost if those seeking safety are left at the mercy of the sea,” said UNHCR Europe Director Vincent Cochetel in a statement.

The incident has rekindled anger at a decision by Italy to halt full scale search and rescue operations on its coasts.

According to UNHCR, migrants’ efforts to cross the sea from North Africa to Europe claimed 3,500 lives in 2014.

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