• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

German frigate helps save 2,220 refugees

AFP/DPA/The Local · 15 May 2015, 09:05

Published: 15 May 2015 09:05 GMT+02:00

At around noon the Hesse took 107 people on board at a point 80km off the coast of Libya, north of the capital Tripoli. The refugees were trying to cross the treacherous stretch of water in a inflatable boat.

Two hours later the frigate picked up a further 102 refugees from an inflatable boat 120 kilometres north of the Libyan capital.

Recent good weather and calm sea conditions have prompted a surge in the number of people attempting the perilous journey, and the Italian coastguard on Thursday said over 2,000 migrants had been rescued from a number of boats since Wednesday.

Some 1,100 of them arrived at the Sicilian port of Catania on Thursday afternoon, including 23-year-old Sandra Kite from Nigeria, who is seven months pregnant and said she was fleeing the violence by Boko Haram Islamists.

"We left for Libya in April 2014 but Libya is dangerous too," she told AFP after being brought to shore by a British navy ship.

More than 5,000 migrants, many escaping civil war in Syria, have died over the past 18 months while trying to cross the Mediterranean, often on flimsy rubber dinghies or fishing boats.

EU firms up plans to tackle smugglers

The European Union firmed up plans to crack down on people smugglers in the Mediterranean on Thursday.

Germany said it was confident of winning UN Security Council approval for an ambitious EU naval military operation, part of a wider plan to stem the flow of people risking their lives to reach Europe from the shores of North Africa.

In an effort to destroy the human traffickers' "business model", the EU wants to be able to identify, intercept and possibly destroy the smugglers' boats in Libyan waters, something that would require a United Nations resolution.

Speaking on the sidelines of a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in the Turkish city of Antalya, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said he expected such approval to be forthcoming.

"My impression is that there is no veto in principle from one of the veto powers in the Security Council of the United Nations.

"It looks to me that at the current moment it more a question of formulations. I hope that my assessment is right," he said.

Steinmeier added countries were currently deciding at what point it would make sense to propose a draft resolution that would work.

Steinmeier's comments indicate that the bloc does not fear obstacles from veto-wielding non-EU permanent Security Council members Russia and China on the issue.

'HQ in Rome'

The EU's proposed naval mission, called EU Navfor Med, already received initial blessing on Wednesday from the 28 member states of the bloc in Brussels, ahead of a meeting of foreign and defence ministers on Monday, diplomatic sources told AFP.

The formal decision to create the mission should be taken at Monday's meeting with ministers then expected to ask the European military authorities to set it up, the sources added.

It should then be launched at an EU summit in June.

Leading countries in the EU -- Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain – have already promised to deploy warships in the mission to tackle the smugglers in the Mediterranean.

The headquarters of the mission is to be in Rome and will be led by Italian Rear Admiral Enrico Credendino, a European diplomat told AFP.

As part of its bid to deal with the wave of migrants, the EU has also mooted a controversial plan to distribute asylum seekers across member states.

Story continues below…

Member state Hungary said Thursday it would fight against binding quotes to take in refugees. Britain has also criticised the plan though it has the right to opt out.

Pressure has grown on governments to act after an overcrowded migrant boat sank in the Mediterranean last month, leaving more than 750 dead in a case that sparked international outrage.

The EU's military force would have to deal with traffickers who are often heavily armed and have charged their victims thousands of dollars for the risky passage.

The EU wants to take the operation step-by-step, starting by collecting intelligence on the traffickers by using radar, satellite pictures and reconnaissance flights.

If the EU wants ships from its members states to enter Libyan waters or capture a boat flying a foreign flag, it needs the green light from the UN under international law.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini has excluded any kind of ground operation in Libya, a country plunged into chaos with two rival governments and where Islamic State jihadists have a significant presence.  

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

AFP/DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Dresden 'most woman-friendly’ city in Germany
Photo: DPA.

Sorry Berlin, you're not the most progressive city for women, according to a new report.

The future belongs to these 10 German regions
This east German city won the 'most improved' category. Photo: DPA

A new study shows that one city above all will dominate the future of Germany, but if you're canny you might still want to think about moving to Leipzig or Erfurt.

Fugitive ex-terrorists 'on huge crime spree' in north Germany
(L-r): ex-RAF members Volker Staub, Daniela Klette, and Burkhard Garweg. Photo: BKA

In their struggle against capitalism they once murdered businessmen and politicians. Now three ex-terrorists have taken to robbing supermarkets - and rather successfully, too.

Scooter singer finally reveals how much the fish cost
H.P. Baxxter. Photo: DPA

It is the question Germans have wanted to know the answer to for almost two decades - and now they have the answer, thanks to a US talkshow host.

'I'm definitely not a paedophile': disgraced MP
Former MP Sebastian Edathy is in hiding after a child pornography scandal destroyed his career. Photo: DPA

Former MP Sebastian Edathy quit his job and left Germany after videos of naked children were found on his computer.

Weekend promises storms, humidity - and a bit of sun
A storm in Cuxhaven last weekend. Photo: DPA

The forecast for the coming days isn’t the pristine blue skies many of us are longing for. But, in among the storms, the sun will still peek out.

Prosecutors take aim at unedited Hitler book
An original edition of 'Mein Kampf' featuring a photo of Hitler on an inside cover. Photo: DPA

German prosecutors said on Thursday they were investigating whether to bring charges against a publisher who has promised to print a version of Adolf Hitler's anti-Semitic manifesto "Mein Kampf" without annotations.

VW bets on battery factory for electric car dominance
A VW logo is seen in front of a plugged-in electric car. Photo: DPA

Scandal-hit car giant Volkswagen is set to sink huge sums into building a factory for batteries to power its future electric cars, German media reported on Friday.

Raging ticket controller seizes Chinese traveler's passport
File photo of a plainclothes ticket controller. Photo: DPA.

Germany's national rail operator is in hot water after a ticket controller reacted aggressively to a newly arrived Chinese traveler who made one of the most basic transit mistakes: forgetting to stamp her ticket.

Berlin politician crusades for health of skateboarding dog
File photo: DPA

Can a canine enjoy skateboarding? That's the question Berlin politicians are struggling to address in a row over a dog on four wheels.

Sponsored Article
Eat, learn, live: unforgettable holidays in France
Society
Pegida enraged by black children on chocolate bars
Health
New father's tragic herpes warning touches 1000s online
National
Monsanto takeover would be 'diabolical': environmentalists
Lifestyle
10 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
Politics
MP recites explicit Erdogan bestiality poem on live TV
National
China beats Germany in readiness to help refugees
Hamburg
Headless Lübeck corpse turns out to be discarded sex doll
National
Pensioner claims to have found hidden Nazi nukes
Business & Money
Here's why Munich is worth 20 times more than Berlin
Culture
Five sure-fire ways to impress Germans with your manners
Lifestyle
6 things about Munich that will stay with you forever
Technology
Church plans to connect with faithful at Wi-Fi 'Godspots'
Technology
Online hate speech can cost users thousands of Euros
Society
Bavarians in rush for non-lethal weapons licenses
Sport
Here's Germany's Mannschaft for Euro 2016
Culture
The Syrian pianist playing his way into Germans' hearts
The parrot who flew fast enough to trigger a speed camera
Technology
New law could let free Wi-Fi bloom across Germany
Politics
Berlin's plans to beef up the German army
Sport
Lufthansa's Euro 2016 ad takes aim at England
National
Supermarkets must pay massive fine for fixing beer prices
National
4/20: Five things to know about weed in Germany
Berlin
Police break up hipster swarm at vegan restaurant opening
7,862
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd