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  • Migrants are seen on coast guard rescue boat with a group including Syrian refugees, at Siracusa harbour off Sicily.

    Migrants are seen on coast guard rescue boat with a group including Syrian refugees, at Siracusa harbour off Sicily. | Photo: Reuters

Published 19 September 2015

The Italian coast guard said it had picked up at least 4,700 people as part of 20 rescue missions off the coast of Libya.

The Italian coast guard said it had rescued more than 4,700 people off the coast of Libya on Saturday alone as part of 20 rescue operations that intercepted smuggler rubber boats and barges on their way to Europe.

The coast guard said in a statement that it had picked up 4,343 refugees from rubber boats and barges as part of the coordinated rescue operation.

In one of the inflatable boats a woman's body was found, the coast guard said, without specifying the possible cause of death.

Another 335 people were picked up as part of a rescue mission coordinated by Greece and were being directed to a port in Italy to disembark.

The United Nations said this month that nearly 400,000 people have made their way to Europe through the Mediterranean. The majority of the refugees come from Syria where they are fleeing violence and more than 4 years of internal conflict.

RELATED: The Making of the Migration Crisis

The news comes as Europe is struggling over distributing the refugees among countries in the European Union, as more conservative governments in the bloc are rejecting a quota plan to share the refugees.

Meanwhile, some 6,700 people have entered Austria from Hunagry, seeking refuge after traveling for days between bordering countries that were unable or unwilling to offer them shelter.

Hungary is now building a wall across its border with Serbia in order to stop the influx of refugees. Earlier, the Hungarian government accused Croatia of “letting Hungary and the EU down” for allowing the refugees to enter the country and “forcing” Hungry to accept them.

RELATED: Can Images of Refugees Speak?

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