German navy rescues over 1,000 refugees from Mediterranean

German navy ships rescue over 1,000 refugees from the Mediterranean as part of a European Union operation that saved over 3,000 in one day.

AT SEA (JUNE 6, 2015) (GERMAN ARMY) – The German navy rescued over 1,000 refugees from the Mediterranean on Saturday (June 6) as part of a European Union task force operation which the Italian coast guard said saved some 3,480 migrants from 15 boats in the course of one day.

Migrants were picked up from six rubber boats and nine wooden vessels some 45 nautical miles from the Libyan coast, the coast guard said in a statement on Sunday (June 7).

The German Defence Ministry said its ships “Berlin” and “Hesse” had brought 1,411 people on board from four boats.

The Italian coast guard, border police and navy, the Irish navy ship Le Eithne and the vessel Phoenix of the privately funded Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) also took part in the 15 rescue operations, the coast guard said.

During the first five months of the year, there were 46,500 sea arrivals in Italy, a 12 percent increase on the same period of last year, the United Nations refugee agency said. Italy’s government projects 200,000 will come this year, up from 170,000 in 2014.

The summer months are usually the busiest period for departures because the calm seas make the crossing easier.

This year growing anarchy in Libya – the last point on one of the main transit routes to Europe – is giving free hand to people smugglers who make an average of 80,000 euros ($89,000) from each boatload, according to an ongoing investigation by an Italian court.

No further details of the migrants’ origin or state of health were immediately available.

MOAS, which is operating a privately funded rescue operation with Doctors Without Borders, said its Phoenix ship plucked 372 mostly Eritreans from one boat.

Britain’s Ministry of Defence said a warship from the British navy, HMS Bulwark, launched a mission in the Mediterranean to rescue at least 500 migrants on Sunday, after four migrant vessels were identified in distress.