Afraid and exhausted, more than 100 migrants were pulled from a rubber dinghy floating in the Mediterranean sea on Thursday (September 14) under the watchful eye of the Libyan coastguard.
NGO workers operating for SOS Mediterranee from their ship Aquarius plucked 142 people to safety, including three children under the age of five.
Women cried with relief as they boarded the rescue boat and men wiped tears from their eyes as the reality they were now safe sunk in.
Arrivals in Italy from North Africa, the main route for migration to Europe this year, dropped by more than 50 percent in July from a year earlier. The decline is put down to armed groups stopping migrant boats from setting off across the Mediterranean from a city west of Tripoli that has been a springboard for people smugglers.
The Italian-trained Libyan coastguard is also turning around migrant boats before they reach international waters and sending them back to Libya. Several NGO’s have ceased to operate in the Mediterranean after an increasing hostility by the Libyan authorities and the coastguard.
The dinghy used by the migrants was set alight by the Libyan coastguard after the rescue so it could not be re-used by people smugglers.