Some 700 migrants rescued in Mediterranean, 23 found dead

Migrants rescued by "Save the Children" NGO crew approach the ship Vos Hestia in the Mediterranean sea off Libya coast, in this June 18, 2017 photo. (REUTERS)
Updated 04 November 2017
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Some 700 migrants rescued in Mediterranean, 23 found dead

ROME: Rescuers pulled 700 boat migrants to safety in the Mediterranean and found 23 bodies during one operation on Friday, an Italian coast guard spokesman said, the second loss of multiple lives recorded in the area so far this week.
After around three years of mass arrivals, the number of migrants reaching Italy has fallen sharply since July, when Rome struck a deal with Libya to block what had become a busy route for people smugglers.
A Spanish ship deployed in the European Union’s Operation Sophia naval mission recovered the dead, along with 64 survivors, from a sinking rubber boat, the mission said on its Facebook page.
“A tough day in the Central Mediterranean Sea,” the Facebook post said, adding the rescues had started in the early morning.
Six rescue operations were carried out in total on Friday, the spokesman said, making it one of the busiest days for rescues in recent months. Seven people were found dead and 900 saved on Wednesday.
The Italian Coast Guard ship Diciotti was heading for the southern port of Reggio Calabria with 764 rescued migrants on board, the ANSA news agency said in a report confirmed by the coast guard spokesman.
Diciotti was also carrying eight dead bodies, ANSA said. It was not clear if they had been among those recovered by the Spanish ship.
Those rescued were originally from Sub-Saharan Africa, Pakistan, Libya, Bangladesh, Algeria, Egypt, Nepal, Morocco, Sri Lanka, Yemen, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, ANSA said.
In the Aegean Sea on Friday, three people drowned, six were known to be missing and scores of others were rescued while trying to reach Greece.


US women detained for speaking Spanish sue border agency

In this Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019, photo provided by the ACLU of Montana, Martha Hernandez, left, and Ana Suda pose in front of a convenience store in Havre, Mont., where they say they were detained by a U.S Border Patrol agent for speaking Spanish last year. (AP)
Updated 16 February 2019
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US women detained for speaking Spanish sue border agency

  • The American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday filed suit against US Customs and Border Protection on behalf of the women, who live in Havre

LOS ANGELES: Two US women detained by a border patrol agent in the state of Montana after he heard them speaking Spanish in a grocery store have sued the country’s border protection agency.
Video of the incident — which took place last May in the small town of Havre — showed Agent Paul O’Neal tell Ana Suda and Martha Hernandez that he had asked to see their identification as it was unusual to hear Spanish speakers in the state, which borders Canada.
“It has to do with you guys speaking Spanish in the store in a state where it’s predominately English speaking,” he said.
“It’s not illegal, it’s just very unheard of up here,” he told the women.
The American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday filed suit against US Customs and Border Protection on behalf of the women, who live in Havre.
Suda and Hernandez say in the lawsuit that O’Neal detained them for 40 minutes.
California native Hernandez and Suda, who was born in Texas, said they were standing in line to buy milk and eggs when the agent — who was standing behind them — commented on Hernandez’s accent, and asked the women where they were born.
“I asked, ‘Are you serious’?” Suda said, according to the lawsuit. “Agent O’Neal responded that he was ‘dead serious’.”
The two women say they were then asked to show identification and questioned outside the store, before eventually being released.
“The incident itself is part of a broader pattern that we’ve seen of abusive tactics by border patrol which has gotten worse since the Trump administration, which has left border patrol officers feeling emboldened to take actions like this,” Cody Wofsy, an attorney with the ACLU, told AFP.
“This has been devastating for (Suda and Hernandez),” he added.
“Havre is a small town, they felt ostracized and humiliated and made to feel unwelcome in their own town and in their own country.”
He noted the United States has no official language, with Spanish by far the most common language spoken after English.
A Customs and Border Protection spokesman declined to comment on the case.
“As a matter of policy, US Customs and Border Protection does not comment on pending litigation,” he told AFP in a statement. “However, lack of comment should not be construed as agreement or stipulation with any of the allegations.”