Irish Navy rescues 120 as 2016 is confirmed as deadliest ever year for migrants in Mediterranean

UN refugee agency confirms 3,800 have died in the Mediterranean this year

The Irish navy has today rescued more than 120 people from the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Libya.

Responding to a request from the Italian Maritime Rescue Co-Ordination Centre, the LÉ Samuel Beckett located and rescued approximately 122 people on board a rubber vessel 37 nautical miles from Tripoli.

The rescue operation began at 8.00am and all migrants were taken on board LÉ Samuel Beckett by 12.30pm. 

The migrants are now receiving food, water and medical treatment where required. 

More than 3,800 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean this year making 2016 the deadliest ever year for the crossing - with two months still to go.

The increase comes despite a significant drop in the number of people attempting to reach Europe - 1,015,078 made the crossing last year, compared to 327,800 in 2016.

United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) spokesperson William Spindler said the high death rate is, "a reminder of the importance of continuing robust search and rescue capacities – without which the fatality rates would almost certainly be higher.”

The LÉ Samuel Beckett has been assisting the Italian Authorities with humanitarian search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean since leaving Ireland on September 23rd.