Newstalk
Newstalk

09.14 16 May 2015


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The Government's move to join search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean is being welcomed.

The LE Eithne has departed Irish shores, with 68 Irish sailors and two army medics on board - the first time an Irish vessel has been deployed in an operation of this kind.

Almost 2,000 people have drowned in the waters of the Mediterranean between Africa and Europe so far this year, as they attempted to flee war-torn countries.

Médecins Sans Frontières Ireland is welcoming this latest development - but its Director Jane Anne McKenna says it's simply a temporary solution:

The LE Eithne left Cork, bound for the waters between Africa and Europe, where thousands of migrants have already drowned attempting to flee from poverty and war at home.

It's been two weeks since the ship's crew were told to prepare for the mission. Before they left, the crew met the Taoiseach and the Minister for Defence.

Enda Kenny's presence shows the importance the Government is attaching to this search and rescue mission.

So far this year almost 2,000 people have drowned in the waters of the Mediterranean between Africa and Europe, and the EU has promised to clamp down on people smugglers who are running a lucrative business out of dangerously overcrowded boats.

They are also promising to step up rescue efforts.

However the advent of summer has brought calmer water conditions and with them an increase in the numbers willing to attempt the perilous journey - which means the rescuers' jobs have just become that much more difficult.

Originally published at 9.14am


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