Germany sends two ships for EU migrant rescue mission

AFP , Monday 4 May 2015

Migrants walk aboard the Italian navy ship Scirocco during a rescue operation about 40 nautical miles off the coast of Libya in this handout picture released on June 14, 2014 by the Italian Marina Militare. (Photo:Reuters)

Germany deployed two ships to the Mediterranean Monday to assist a European Union migrant rescue mission beefed up last month to stop deadly disasters at sea, the defence ministry said.

The ships Berlin and Hessen arrived at the Greek island of Crete to be loaded up with cargo and personnel, a ministry spokesman said.

"We still need to coordinate a bit" between various German ministries involved in the mission and the EU, the spokesman told reporters, adding that the vessels, a task force supply ship and a frigate, would arrive at their destination off Libya between Wednesday and Friday.

At a Brussels summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel offered the two ships which were previously used in the anti-piracy mission known as Atalanta off the Horn of Africa.

They will be loaded with 10 life rafts, 450 life vests, 1,000 blankets and medical supplies and staffed by eight doctors, the defence ministry spokesman said.

On April 19, some 750 migrants were killed when their trawler sank between Libya and southern Italy, sparking global outrage and demands for action.

Four days later EU leaders tripled the bloc's budget for patrols off Libya.

Some 1,750 migrants have died crossing the Mediterranean to Europe this year, 30 times more than during the same period in 2014, according to the International Organization for Migration.

Another 5,800 migrants desperate to reach Europe were rescued at the weekend as they tried to cross the Mediterranean on rickety boats, the Italian coastguard said.

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