Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 September 2014, 13:07 GMT

UN agency lauds Italian navy for sea rescue of refugees from Libya

Publisher UN News Service
Publication Date 11 November 2011
Cite as UN News Service, UN agency lauds Italian navy for sea rescue of refugees from Libya, 11 November 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4ec22f542.html [accessed 30 September 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
The United Nations refugee agency today thanked the Italian navy for rescuing a boat that had been in distress in the Mediterranean Sea for two days, the first vessel originating from Libya that has arrived in Europe since mid-August.

According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the boat was carrying 44 people, mostly sub-Saharans. Relatives of some of the passengers onboard sent out distress calls from a satellite phone in the Mediterranean Sea on Tuesday evening.

A full 48 hours later, the boat was rescued by an Italian military vessel last night.

"UNHCR is grateful that the Italian navy took this UNHCR had estimated that, as of mid-August, some 52,000 people had arrived in Italy since the unrest in North Africa began earlier this yearinitiative despite the fact that the boat was in Maltese search and rescue waters," spokesperson Adrian Edwards told reporters in Geneva.

He said the delay in rescuing the boat led to huge risks to the lives of the people onboard, including drowning, dehydration and exposure.

A woman with a small baby was evacuated by helicopter to Sicily from the Italian island of Lampedusa, Mr. Edwards added.

UNHCR had estimated that, as of mid-August, some 52,000 people had arrived in Italy since the unrest in North Africa began earlier this year – 27,000 of them departed from Libya and the rest from Tunisia.

Hundreds of people have also lost their lives attempting to reach Italy's shores. At the start of June at least 150 people who fled Libya drowned in one of the year's deadliest boat incidents in the Mediterranean.

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