Over 140 migrants were rescued in seven operations launched at the weekend in the Mediterranean, the Italian coastguard said. A spokesman told French News Agency (AFP) yesterday that four of the rescue operations had already wound up but the others were ongoing.<span id=
“Saturday was quiet on the whole but now there is further movement,” he said. “We have had several interventions — one by a ship belonging to (medical charity) MSF, two coastguard units as well as an Italian naval ship and a ship belonging to EU Navfor Med,” he said.
According to thenation, The migrants mainly came from Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal and Sierra Leone and left Libya three days earlier. They were rescued about 80 kilometres off the Libyan coast.
The EU Navfor Med is a military operation launched at the end of June to identify, capture and dispose of vessels and rescue migrants undertaking risky journeys in a desperate bid to try and get to Europe from war-ravaged Syria and other trouble spots.
The mission is equipped with four ships, including an Italian aircraft carrier, and four planes. It is manned by 1,318 troops from 22 European countries.
A German frigate named Werra and an MSF (Doctors Without Borders) ship rescued 140 people from a giant dinghy on Saturday afternoon, according to an AFP photographer.
EU leaders have agreed to boost aid for Syria’s neighbours, including one billion dollars through UN agencies, in a bid to mitigate the refugee influx into Europe.
Some 500,000 people have come to Europe so far this year, the International Organization for Migration says, many of them taking perilous journeys across the Mediterranean on inflatable dinghies.
More than 2,800 people have died or disappeared making the crossing since January.
Up to 20,000 people demonstrated in the Belgian capital yesterday in support of refugees, demanding they be welcomed and treated properly.
The organisers, a collection of local and international rights groups, said there were “20,000 people in Brussels to say welcome to refugees.”
“Thanks for this fantastic effort,” the ‘Citizens Platform for support of refugees in Brussels’ said on Facebook.
“Standing behind us are all the European citizens who are working to help the refugees,” Elodie Francart of the Citizens’ Platform group was quoted as saying by the Belga news agency.
The marchers carried banners reading “Refugees Welcome” while many tweeted messages of support and encouragement.
Police said some 15,000 people took part, gathering near the Gare du Nord train station close to what is known as the “Foreigners Office” where migrants must submit their papers and applications for asylum.
In a nearby park, local people have built a tent village in recent weeks to offer food, clothing and shelter for the many migrants fleeing conflict and upheaval in Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Eritrea and Afghanistan.
Belgium has a large immigrant community and the recent influx has largely been tolerated but the centre-right government has faced criticism that it has not done enough.
The authorities say they are doing everything possible given the numbers involved but insist the rules on asylum must be followed.