The crew of Stefan cel Mare, Romanian Coast Guard’s flagship, rescued 199 migrants who were sailing adrift in a small inflatable boat in the Mediterranean on Tuesday night, near the Italian coast.
According to a press release of the General Inspectorate of Border Police (IGPF), less than one month since the start of cooperation within the framework of the Joint Maritime Operation EPN TRITON 2015/TRITON 2016, coordinated by FRONTEX (the EU border cooperation agency) on the Italian coast with the purpose to prevent illegal immigration, Coast Guard policemen on a patrolling mission received a request from Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in Rome to intervene for the rescue of approximately 100 people aboard an inflatable boat with high risk of drowning in the international waters of the Mediterranean Sea.
After the call, around 10pm on Tuesday, the crew spotted the floating craft with over 100 people aboard, and after evaluating the situation (cold weather, overcrowding and imminent risk of sinking), decided to take the migrants aboard. Thus, the 199 people – all males, including 34 children, in a state of dehydration and showing signs of hypothermia, were transferred aboard the Stefan cel Mare, where they received assistance and first aid. According to their own declarations, the immigrants came from Gambia, Senegal, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Cameroon, Sierra Leone and Mali and were planning to enter the Schengen Area.
The Border Patrol ship arrived on January 27, 2016 around 5pm (Italian time) near the port of Lampedusa, where the immigrants were taken over by Italian boats. The operation proceeded smoothly, in safe conditions both for the immigrants and for the crew. After closing the rescue mission, Stefan cel Mare resumed its mission within the FRONTEX Operation.