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Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) pulls out about 6,500 people from 40 ships off the coast of Libya en route to Europe

Abraha is a relative of the migrant and paid about $2,000 to smugglers in Libya to help him cross the Mediterranean

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Migrants sailing in a crowded wooden boat carrying more than seven hundred migrants, are helped by members of an NGO during a rescue operation at the Mediterranean sea, about 13 miles north of Sabratha, Libya, Aug. 29, 2016. (VOA)
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In what one rescuer called an “extraordinary day,” about 6,500 people on Monday were pulled from some 40 ships off the coast of Libya en route to Europe.

Nicholas Papachrysostomou, field coordinator for Dignity I, a rescue ship in the Mediterranean operated by Doctors Without Borders, or Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), said the scale is unprecedented.

“All together, the number is awe-inspiring,” Papachrysostomou said. “In the history of search and rescue operation in the central Mediterranean, I don’t think we’ve ever seen this figure on one single day.”

The day began with MSF rescuers responding to a distress call relayed from the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in Rome. In a harrowing scene caught on camera by the Associated Press, rescuers encountered 600 to 700 people crammed inside a wooden boat. Nearby, were another 18 to 20 rubber boats, each with about 120 people on board, he said.

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MSF helped rescue about 3,000 people, and the Italian Coast Guard coordinated efforts to save about 3,500 more in separate operations. Calm water and low-winds during the morning were the reasons for the high numbers of people setting off for Europe that day, Papachrysostomou said.

Many of the refugees were from Eritrea and Somalia, although large numbers also originated from West Africa.

The wet personal belonging of a migrant man are spread out to dry in the sun after he was rescued from the Mediterranean sea, about 13 miles north of Sabratha, Libya, Monday, Aug. 29, 2016 (VOA)

Papachrysostomou said rescuers saw signs of physical abuse, malnourishment and suffering from exposure to the elements.

“The older ones are more vulnerable and the little children,” he said. “We come across cases where people are quite sick (from nausea). There’s hyperthermia. There’s fever. There are a number of conditions as a result of the journey, but we also have to consider that in order to get to Libya these people have had a long journey from their country,” he said as the migrants were being taken to Vibo Valentia, in southern Italy. “So they come with accumulated fatigue – and not just physical but also psychological.”

Abraha is a relative of the migrant and paid about $2,000 to smugglers in Libya to help him cross the Mediterranean.

The migrant’s journey began two years earlier in the town of Halay near Adi-Keyih, Eritrea. He left home because he saw no future there, Abraha said.

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“They want to lead their lives freely, and that’s why they left. That is their dream and their first goal is to lead their lives, be it through education and other means, and then they want to help others, families, they left behind.”

After leaving Eritrea, a two-year journey took Abraha’s relative from Ethiopia and Sudan to Libya. There, he fell in with smugglers and, according to Abraha, suffered beatings when he didn’t pay the money he owed.

“I know his voice… and I asked him because I was confused. I said why has your voice changed? He said they are beating me because I didn’t pay money and I am in bad condition.”

For Abraha’s relative and untold other migrants, a dramatic rescue at sea is only the latest chapter in a journey controlled by abusive smugglers. That’s why MSF, the Italian Coast Guard and other rescuers see saving lives as part of a broader mission to dismantle the smuggling networks that fuel Mediterranean migration.

To prevent smugglers from reusing their boats, military vessels destroy them after migrants have been safely evacuated, Papachrysostomou said.

These activities are part of Operation Sofia, a European Union effort to curtail migration by disrupting smugglers’ and traffickers’ business models.

Safe and legal passage to Europe is the only way to keep migrants out of the hands of smugglers, Papachrysostomou said.

“And this is why we believe, in Doctors without Borders, we believe that it is very important to reconsider the European policy. It is important to reconsider safe and legal passage because, the moment they don’t have this, this is when they would actually look for the smugglers, and this is where the smugglers become very important because they are the only way to get them across.” (VOA)

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  • Kabir Chaudhary

    The huge influx of migrants to Europe needs to be contained. UNHCR and other such organisation needs to do a better job in providing safe and legal passage.

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Royal Enfield launches Interceptor, Continental GT 650 in India

The two motorcycles were unveiled at the EICMA motorcycle show in Italy's Milan.

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Royal Enfield's new trump cards
The two motorcycles were unveiled at the EICMA motorcycle show in Italy's Milan on November 7, 2017. Wikimedia Commons

The Royal Enfield on Sunday unveiled its much-awaited Interceptor GT 650 and Continental GT 650 in front of hundreds of bike enthusiasts at its annual rider mania here.
Both the motorcycles are powered by an all-new 650cc, air-cooled parallel twin engines with an oil cooler for enhanced performance. The fuel injected motor claims to deliver 47PS of power at 7,100rpm and a peak torque of 52Nm at 4,000rpm.
The two motorcycles were unveiled at the EICMA motorcycle show in Italy’s Milan on November 7, 2017.
The engines have a strong low and mid-range performance, retaining the Royal Enfield character of accessible torque through the rev range.
Also new to the Interceptor is the six-speed gearbox, specially developed for this motorcycle.
The gearbox is augmented by its ‘slip/assist’ clutch that facilitates easy riding in traffic with a light feel and prevents wheel-hop when downshifting gears – also a first for Royal Enfield.
The chassis has been developed from the ground up by the team at Royal Enfield’s UK Technology Centre and Harris Performance.
It has been engineered and fine-tuned for enhanced agility that can handle different terrains and speeds with ease while retaining the period classic style.
The Interceptor INT 650 ushers in the idea of the 1960’s fun, relaxed motorcycles from the sun-drenched California beaches.
With its classic tear-drop shaped fuel-tank, quilted twin-seat and distinctive wide braced handlebars, the Interceptor INT 650 looks every bit the stunning Roadster that it is.
The motorcycle is equipped with classic 18″ front and rear Pirelli tyres and twin shock absorbers, along with front and rear disc brakes with ABS.
While, the Continental GT 650 is a cafe-racer and looks almost identical to the existing Continental GT 535 as it retains the same headlamp, fuel tank and many other elements from its sibling while the rear has gone through some changes along with the new dual side exhaust muffler.
Speaking after unveiling the new motorcycles, Royal Enfield CEO and MD Siddharth Lal said: “Both the Interceptor 650 and the Continental GT 650 will be very accessible motorcycles in India in terms of both pricing and maintenance.”
He said that with the two new motorcycles, the company wants to upgrade their 2.5 million customers in India who wants more from the Royal Enfield.
He also said that the new motorcycles will be available in the showrooms by March or April. Without announcing the prices of the new motorcycles, Lal hinted that it would be priced between Rs 3 lakh and 3.5 lakh. (IANS)