Boat disaster kills at least six off Italy’s Southern coast

At least six people died in the seas off Italy’s southern coast when a vessel carrying about 370 migrants capsized, Italian rescue operations said Monday. A search through the Mare Nostrum (Our Sea) rescue program was continuing for others who may have survived the initial disaster. It was among numerous vessels carrying almost 4,000 migrants who were rescued between Friday and Sunday evening in a series of operations through the Mare Nostrum program that was established almost one year ago. Government officials have said that approximately 100,000 migrants have arrived in Italy so far this year, some arriving safely on their own but many rescued by Italy. Most are fleeing conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa and are so desperate to find safety in Europe that they make the risky crossing. Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said recently the country cannot continue to take in so many desperate people who are heading for other parts of Europe with Italy just their first stop. He said that the European Union must do much more to help with the migrant emergency – likely through EU border agency Frontex – that Italy has so far coped with largely on its own. The minister made his comments following a European Commission statement that Frontex is “a small agency, and needs more funds”. “The EU is stating the obvious,” Alfano said at the time. “Money is scarce, and member States must intervene”. The EU must take responsibility for beefing up Frontex so it can replace Italy’s Mare Nostrum operation before Italy closes that mission altogether, Alfano said.

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