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News > World

1,100 Refugees Rescued off Coast of Italy

  • Refugees are rescued during a MOAS operation off the coast of Libya Aug. 18, 2016.

    Refugees are rescued during a MOAS operation off the coast of Libya Aug. 18, 2016. | Photo: Reuters

Published 28 August 2016

The U.N. says that more than 270,000 people crossed the Mediterranean sea so far this year. At least 2,700 people have lost their lives trying.

About 1,100 refugees were rescued from boats in the Strait of Sicily on Sunday as they tried to reach Europe, Italy's coastguard said.

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The refugees were picked up from eight rubber dinghies, one large boat and two punts through 11 rescue operations in the Mediterranean, the coastguard said in a statement. It did not mention the refugees' country of origin.

Latest data from the International Organization for Migration, released Friday, said some 105,342 refugees have reached Italy by boat this year, many of them setting sail from Libya.

With more than four months until the end of the year, an estimated 2,726 men, women and children have died over the same period trying to make the journey, often dangerously packed into small vessels unsuitable for the voyage.

Italy has been on the front line of Europe's refugee crisis for three years, and more than 400,000 have successfully made the voyage to Italy from North Africa since the beginning of 2014, fleeing violence and poverty.

More than 1 million people arrived in Europe in 2015, which was five times more than the year before. The IOM said more than 3,770 refugees were killed trying to make the risky trip to Europe in 2015.

A controversial agreement between Turkey and the European Union this year to crackdown on arrivals from Turkey to Greece via the Aegean sea saw many asylum seekers opting for the riskier and more expensive option to go through the Mediterranean.

The United Nations says more than 270,000 people have arrived to Europe through Italy and Greece. The numbers show that while arrivals this year are destined to be lower than the previous year, death among refugees stands at a much higher rate with this year’s toll just 1,000 shy of 2015’s death toll.

The global refugee crisis, ignited by the five-year conflict in Syria, saw the European conservative right capitalizing advancing its political agendas using xenophobic and Islamophobic rhetoric.

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Many believe that the United Kingdom’s vote to leave Europe, known as Brexit, won largely because of its campaigners push for anti-refugee rhetoric. In France the far-right Popular Front party made major advances in the local elections thanks to its anti-immigrant and Islamophobic campaign.

Meanwhile across the Atlantic real estate billionaire Donald Trump secured the Republican presidential nomination using the promises of ban on Muslims entering the U.S. and building a wall to stop Mexicans from entering the country.

He repeatedly claimed, without any evidence, that the majority of the refugees who were admitted by the U.S. over the past few years were members of the Islamic State group seeking to attack the country.

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