More than 60 rescued at sea in southern Adriatic

Briefing Notes, 3 July 2012

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 3 July 2012, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR welcomes the prompt and efficient action of the Croatian Coast Guard yesterday (2nd July) in rescuing 65 people adrift on a boat in the Adriatic. The boat was spotted drifting off the Croatian island of Mljet on Sunday night. The Coast Guard crew provided food, water and medical supplies to the people on board and towed the vessel to the safety of Dubrovnik's Gruz harbour yesterday afternoon.

The boat is said to have left Greece and lost power. It was adrift for two days. All the passengers were male, reportedly of 12 different nationalities including Syrians, Afghans, Somalis and Egyptians.

At the request of the authorities, our partner the Croatian Red Cross is on the ground and providing humanitarian and medical assistance in Gruz harbour, where the passengers are temporarily accommodated. Reportedly some passengers require urgent medical help. Blankets and other basic aid items are also being made available to them. UNHCR is also following up further.

The Mediterranean is one of the busiest irregular mixed migration routes into Europe through Greece, Italy and Malta. Last year was a record in terms of the number of arrivals in Europe via the Mediterranean, with more than 58,000 people making the crossing. According to UNHCR estimates, more than 1,500 people drowned or went missing while attempting to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe in 2011.

For more information on this topic, please contact:

  • In Zagreb: Dorijan Klasnic on mobile +385 91 3713 599
  • In Geneva: Andrej Mahecic on mobile +41 79 200 7617
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In late June, UNHCR photographer Alfredo D'Amato boarded the San Giorgio, an Italian naval ship taking part in the operation, to document the rescue process - including the first sighting of boats from a military helicopter, the passengers' transfer to small rescue boats and then the mother ship, and finally their return to dry land in Puglia, Italy.

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