Migration: Operation Mare Nostrum saving lives, says Navy

16 interventions and 3,374 rescued

11 November, 18:50

    (ANSAmed) - VALLETTA, NOVEMBER 11 - Since the Operation Mare Nostrum began on October 18 after the latest tragedy off Lampedusa, 16 rescue operations have made it possible to help 3,374 people. Some 1,993 have been taken onboard, including 215 women and 259 children, and ''we haven't had any more deaths at sea'', said Admiral Giuseppe De Giorgi in Malta, who alongside Italian Defense Minister Mario Mauro took part in a visit called for by Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta - on the sidelines of his visit to Valletta - to the ship Durand De La Penne to express appreciation for the commitment shown by Italian soldiers. In illustrating the figures of the operation De Giorgi said that the operation had made it possible to ''retake control'' of the sea. There have now been 8,065 people rescued since the beginning of 2013.

    ''All the boats carrying migrants have been intercepted before getting to our coasts'', thus serving to combat migrant trafficking, as shown by a recent operation in which 16 traffickers were captured. The ''capture of the mother ships is one of the main objectives'' of the mission, continued De Giorgi, reiterating that ''we cannot accept that the sea becomes a place of death, where traffickers can continue to conduct their dirty business''. He noted that the operation makes use of five naval units with helicopters and aircraft on the ground, including a drone from Sicily or Apulia that monitors an area of operation of about 43 square kilometres, from the coasts of Tunisia to the waters off Libya and stretching towards the eastern Mediterranean, through ''a system that brings together all the agencies in Italy working at sea''. The operation is also requiring ''the use of larger ships able to stay at sea during bad weather conditions, due to a substantial increase in the number of migrants per boat''. The key, he concluded, is ''to intervene early to prevent shipwrecks''.(ANSAmed).

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