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Scandinavian Ships Rescue Nearly 1,000 Migrants in 24 Hours

Boats from Norway and Denmark have picked up 992 migrants off the coast of Libya in the Mediterranean Sea in the last 24 hours.
June 23, 2015, 12:50pm
Photo by Pasquale Claudio Montana Lampo/EPA

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Boats from Norway and Denmark have rescued 992 migrants off the coast of Libya in the last 24 hours.

On Monday, the Norwegian Siem Pilot vessel took aboard 671 stranded people from two wooden boats in the Mediterranean Sea, floating just north of Libyan capital Tripoli. Later the same day the ship took a further 99 more migrants previously aided by a Russian tanker.

Captain Svein Kvalavaag told the Norwegian website maritime.no that of the 770 migrants 45 are children and 140 are women, three of whom were pregnant. The rescued migrants were taken to the Italian island of Sicily.

Then a Danish ship, a commercial vessel belonging to the Torm company, responded to a call from Italian coast guards on Monday after more boats carrying migrants were spotted in distress off the Libyan coast.

Company spokesman Jesper Jensen said that this ship, Torm Arawa, picked up 222 people and provided them with food and water before being taken to a port in the southern Italian region of Calabria.

Unlike the commercial, Singapore-flagged Danish vessel, the Norwegian ship recently joined the fleet of the European Union's border protection and coordination force Frontex.

Watch the VICE News Documentary, Migrant Prisons of Libya: Europe or Die (Full Length).

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After an emergency meeting in April, EU interior and foreign ministers agreed to additional maritime patrols in the Mediterranean and to widen their search-and-rescue missions.

The news of this rescue is a continuation of the migration crisis in the region, which, as of June 17, has already seen 1,868 deaths in 2015 according to figures from the International Organisation For Migration.

The figure from this year, if the situation continues, shows a sharp increase on the UNHRC estimates of 3,500 deaths for the whole of 2014.

Although the nationalities of those rescued on Monday are as of yet unknown, Syrians, Eritreans and Afghans are the nationals most frequently attempting the dangerous Mediterranean crossing.

According to a report released by the UNHCR last week, the number of refugees and internally displaced placed has reached record levels. The figure rose to 59.5 million in 2014, up from 51.2 million in 2013 — the equivalent to 42,500 per day, or one in every 122 people on the planet