Aid ship with 403 migrants rescued off Libya docks in Italy

In this image provided by the Turkish Military, members of Turkish forces, left, carry migrants collapsed on the floor of the boat, rescued from aboard an inflatable dinghy in the mid Mediterranean Sea, Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020. (AP)
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Updated 29 January 2020

Aid ship with 403 migrants rescued off Libya docks in Italy

  • The Ocean Viking arrived in the southern port of Taranto with 403 of 407 migrants rescued off Libya during five operations within a 72-hour period

MILAN: A European organization that operates migrant rescue ships denounced what it characterized as a chaotic maritime rescue system in the central Mediterranean Sea as one of its vessels disembarked hundreds of rescued passengers at an Italian port Wednesday.
The Ocean Viking, which is jointly operated by SOS Mediteranee and the medical nonprofit Doctors Without Borders, arrived in the southern port of Taranto with 403 of 407 migrants rescued off Libya during five operations within a 72-hour period. A woman who suffered serious burns and her three children were previously evacuated from the ship to island nation of Malta.
SOS Mediteranee operations director Federic Penard said it took the ship 10 hours to reach the location of the last two rescues and that Maltese armed forces handled a third.
He said current coordination and rescue operations on the dangerous central Mediterranean route are chaotic and there are not enough rescue ships on the lookout for people in trouble.
‘’The main issue is how to rescue these people,” Penard said.
The Twitter account for Alarm Phone, an emergency hotline for people crossing the Mediterranean, had a post saying it was alerted in the past five days of nine boats in distress carrying about 650 people in total.
‘’All of them escaped war-torn #Libya and reached #Europe!” the tweet said.
Penard called for renewing dedicated government-led rescue operations, like Italy’s former Mare Nostrum patrols or the European Union’s Operation Sofia. The latter stopped operating ships last March and is limited to aerial surveillance.
‘’There is complete chaos in terms of coordination between the maritime authorities in Europe and the maritime authorities in Libya,” Penard said. ‘’Each rescue, we feel, is a bit of a miracle that we find the boats.”
The migrants who landed in Italy included 12 pregnant women and 132 unaccompanied minors as young as 12-years-old and 20 families, according to government officials.
Malta opened a port Wednesday to the Alan Kurdi, a rescue ship run by a German humanitarian group that was carrying 77 rescued migrants. The Maltese government said it would accept 50 of the passengers for processing of asylum claims and the others would be transferred to other European countries.


Iran Guards threatens US over Gulf presence after receiving new combat vessels

Updated 21 sec ago

Iran Guards threatens US over Gulf presence after receiving new combat vessels

  • Guards’ navy chief warns it is expanding Iran’s naval power

TEHRAN: Iran’s Revolutionary Guards on Thursday warned the United States against its naval presence in the Gulf as they received 110 new combat vessels.
The vessels included Ashura-class speedboats, Zolfaghar coastal patrol boats and Taregh submarines, state television reported.
“We announce today that wherever the Americans are, we are right next to them, and they will feel our presence even more in the near future,” the Guards’ navy chief Rear Admiral Alireza Tangsiri said during a ceremony in southern Iran.
Iran and the United States have appeared to be on the brink of an all-out confrontation twice in the past year.
The latest confrontation between the arch-foes came after the United States accused the Guards of harassing its ships in the Gulf in mid-April.
“Advancing while remaining defensive is the nature of our work,” said Guards commander Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami.
“But this does not equal passivity against the enemy,” he added, noting that Iran “will not bow down to any foe.”
According to Salami, the Guards’ navy had been instructed to expand Iran’s naval power until it can adequately defend “territorial independence and integrity, protect naval interests and pursue and destroy the enemy.”
Decades-old acrimony between the two worsened in 2018 when US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from a deal that gave Iran relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear program.
Tensions escalated further in January when a US air strike killed Qasem Soleimani, the top Iranian general who headed the Guards’ foreign arm, the Quds Force.