German naval vessel rescues more than 100 migrants off Libyan coast | News | DW | 14.12.2017
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German naval vessel rescues more than 100 migrants off Libyan coast

A Bundeswehr vessel has rescued 102 migrants off the coast of Libya. In a dramatic few days of rescue missions, a further 50 migrants were airlifted after being stranded in the Aegean Sea between Turkey and Greece.

A Bundeswehr ship patrolling the Mediterranean Sea rescued 84 men, two women, 15 children and a baby from an inflatable dingy, Germany's Defense Ministry said on Thursday.

The people were brought aboard the German frigate "Mecklenburg-Vorpommern" and taken to the Sicilian coastal city of Messina.

The dingy, meanwhile, was regarded as a potential obstacle for subsequent sea travel and sunk by the military.

Read more: European rights chief questions Italy's migrant deals with Libya

The German navy has been patrolling the Mediterranean crossing from northern Africa into Europe since May 2015 as part of an EU mission dubbed "Sophia." In that time, German troops have rescued some 22,000 migrants trying to make it across from Libya to Italy.

As Europe scrambles to stem the flow migrants arriving on its shores, data published by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the UN's migration agency, has reported a drop in the number of migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea. Compared to the 273,000 migrants that landed between January and August 2016, only about 121,000 arrived during the same period this year.

Watch video 00:56

Stranded migrants rescued from rocks off Turkish coast

Dramatic rescue in the Aegean Sea caught on film

In a dramatic few days of sea missions, the Turkish coast guard on Thursday said it had rescued 51 migrants stranded on some rocks in the middle of Aegean Sea.

According to officials, the migrants had attempted to illegally cross into Greece from the Turkish province of Izmir.

Dramatic footage of the operation showed a rescue helicopter using a rope to lift people off the rocks. The coast guard said in a statement that five children and a woman were rescued by airlift, while the others were taken onto guard boats and taken back to the port town of Dikili.

Turkish coast guards rescue 51 migrants stranded in the Aegean Sea (picture alliance/abaca/C. Oksuz)

The stranded migrants had reportedly tried to cross the Aegean Sea into Greece from the Turkish coastal province of Izmir.

While no information was given regarding the migrants' nationality, more than 3.3 million Syrian refugees currently live in Turkey.

Read more: Greece: Refugees living in limbo

During the height of the 2015 migrant crisis, more than a million people fleeing the war in Syria crossed from Turkey to European Union member Greece, marking the greatest migration crisis seen on the continent since World War Two.

A 2016 deal between Turkey and the EU has since seen the number of migrants arriving in southeastern Europe massively reduced. Migration policy, however, remains a hot-button issue across the European Union, with national leaders discussing the topic Thursday at a summit in Brussels.

dm/sms (dpa, Reuters, AP, AFP)

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