German navy rescues 121 refugees off Libyan coast

BERLIN, 25th December 2015 (WAM) --- German marines have saved more than one hundred refugees from an unseaworthy boat off the coast of Libya. Two ships were deployed to the waters as part of an EU anti-people smuggling mission, Germany’s international broadcaster, Deutsche Welle (DW) reported.

The 121 migrants - 115 men, three women and three children - were picked up on Thursday by the German navy ship "Berlin," about 50 kilometers off the coast of Libya.

Later, the rescued people were handed over to the Italian Coast Guard, a spokesman for the German military said, adding that the refugees' boat had sunk due to rough sea conditions.

On Wednesday, the ship "Berlin" had rescued more than 200 refugees in similar circumstances, the DW said.

German navy boats have saved 9,874 refugees from drowning in waters between Libya and Italy, since they were deployed to the Mediterranean in May.

The German military has sent two ships as part of the EU naval Operation Sophia, tasked with rescuing migrants and combating people smugglers in the Mediterranean.

The Italian Coast Guard announced on Thursday a total of about 370 people had been rescued in the Mediterranean over the previous three days.

According to the United Nations refugee agency Up;NHCR, around 150,000 migrants have reached Italy by sea this year, compared to 170,000 in 2014.

The majority of asylum seekers who came to Europe this year arrived via the Aegean Sea to Greece.


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