December 20, 2014
Italy rescues over 1,000 immigrants in 48 hours
Italy rescued from the sea and took to Sicilian coasts over a thousand immigrants in the last 48 hours with the Navy operation Mare Nostrum.
The Navy announced the arrival to the port of Augusta, in Sicily, of a boat with 321 immigrants on board, including 63 women and five children, rescued in the Strait of Sicily.
In the last 487 hours, a total of 1,149 immigrants arrived to Sicilian ports rescued by the Italian Navy in cooperation with local coastguards and merchant ships.
Since the beggining of the year, almost 22,000 immigrants and refugees reached the italian coasts, a number ten times higher than the one registered in 2013, authorities say.
Mare Nostrum was launched by Enrico Letta’s government on October 18, 2013, after two deadly shipwrecks near Lampedusa Island that killed over 400 people.
According to Italian press, Mare Nostrum operation has already costed the government 60 million euros, about nine million euros monthly.
Matteo Salvini, the leader of the anti-immigration Northern League party, demanded the
end of the operation, arguing that “Italian citizens end up financing illegal traffickers and an invasion” of the Italian coasts. Maurizio Gaspari, from the rightist Forza Italia, said it is “an insane and expensive operation that needs to be stopped.”