By Kathryn Stone 2015-05-08 11:38:53
Recently deployed British and German navy ships are the latest to come to the aid of migrants making the perilous crossing from Northern Africa into the European Union.
The ships mark an increased European Union commitment for maritime patrols to combat a flood of migration from Northern Africa. Following the April 19 drowning of nearly 900 migrants, the European Union has pledged to triple its commitment to maritime operations in the Mediterranean.
On Thursday, The Royal Navy’s flagship HMS Bulkwark, a 19,000 ton assault ship rescued 110 migrants on its first mission since reaching the Mediterranean on Monday. UK Prime Minister David Cameron offered the warship following an April 23, meeting of European Union nations in Belgium. The Royal navy vessel was originally designed to facilitate Royal Marine Commandos in sea assaults and can carry up to 700 troops in addition to a crew of 325.
Today, the German navy frigate, Hessen similarly rescued around 200 migrants. The vessel is one of two ships loaded with medicine and rescue supplies that Germany sent to the region on Monday. The two ships were taken off of an anti-piracy mission off the Horn of Africa to be used in the Mediterranean rescue operations.
The Irish navy has also said today that it has completed final preparations on the LE Eithne so that it can sail to the Mediterranean by mid next week. Currently, the naval ship is on standby awaiting orders to deploy.
The UN has stated that an estimated 60,000 people have tried to cross the Mediterranean in 2015 to date. This year has also seen the number of reported deaths increase by a factor of 20 over the same period in 2014. Both the Italian and French navies have been vigilant in rescue operations this year, with around 5,800 migrants saved this year.