Saturday, May 23, 2015Saturday, May 23, 2015

Italy rescues over 1,000 migrants as asylum claims shoot up

Published on Apr 8, 2014 8:21 PM

ROME (AFP) - Italy's navy on Tuesday said it had rescued more than 1,000 migrants over the past 24 hours, as new data showed a sharp rise in asylum claims, mostly from Syrians.

Italy began a navy operation "Mare Nostrum" (Our Sea) - a Latin reference to the Mediterranean - after more than 400 migrants from Eritrea and Syria perished in twin tragedies off Italian shores in October 2013.

"Out of the 1,049 migrants saved, 151 were women and 91 children including three babies," the navy said in a statement, adding that the migrants were transferred to navy ships and would arrive in Italy later Tuesday.

Centro Astalli, a refugee centre in Rome, said in its annual report that there were 27,830 asylum claims in Italy in 2013 - 60 per cent more than in 2012 - while the overall number in Europe rose by 32 per cent.

Enjoy 2 weeks of unlimited digital access to The Straits Times. Get your free access now!