Europe

Mediterranean migrant crisis: Irish naval vessel rescues more people

Rescued migrants Image copyright Irish Defence Forces
Image caption The crew of the LÉ Eithne has been involved in a number of rescues in the Mediterranean sea

An Irish Naval Service vessel has helped to rescue another 300 migrants off the coast of Libya, the Irish minister for defence has said.

The LÉ Eithne was sent by the Irish government to join the humanitarian rescue operation earlier this month.

Ireland's defence minister Simon Coveney said the migrants were on a wooden barge trying to make its way across the Mediterranean sea, and were taken on board early on Friday.

It comes a day after the crew worked together with Italian, German and British ships to help rescue 201 migrants from five makeshift inflatable boats.

"This is a tragic situation of people who are willing to put themselves at very significant risk," Mr Coveney told BBC Radio Foyle.

'Desperation'

"Some of them are victims of people-traffickers who are literally jamming them on to boats, charging them a lot of money, and then sending them to sea on vessels that are not fit to cross a river, never mind the Mediterranean."

Mr Coveney said the Irish government would continue to assist the Italian navy's search and rescue efforts at least until the end of September.

"All the evidence suggests the most migrant activity for people trying to cross the Mediterranean is in the summer months when the weather is a bit better and people think they can get across," he said.

"It's a sign of the desperation of people in parts of north Africa that are willing to put themselves and their families in that kind of danger.

"Ultimately what the European Union needs to find a way of doing collectively is creating stability and conditions so that these people can be looked after in their own countries."

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