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Italy Ends, EU Begins Sea Rescue Mission

  • VOA News

FILE - Migrants wait to be boarded on the San Giusto Navy ship, along the Mediterranean sea, off the Sicilian island of Lampedusa,, Aug. 23, 2014.

FILE - Migrants wait to be boarded on the San Giusto Navy ship, along the Mediterranean sea, off the Sicilian island of Lampedusa,, Aug. 23, 2014.

Italy has ended its Mediterranean sea rescue mission that has saved the lives of at least 100,000 migrants, mainly from Africa and the Middle East.

The Mare Nostrum, or Our Sea mission, closed Friday, to make way for the European Union's new search and rescue mission for migrants in the Mediterranean Sea. Triton, the EU operation, began Saturday.

The Italian operation started a year ago after a shipwreck left more than 350 men, women and children dead near the Sicilian island of Lampedusa.

Italy complained the cost of the continuing rescues strained its already tight finances. Italian officials said the government had spent more than $142 million on the mission. Italy had longed called on the EU to do more to help the migrants.

Twenty-one EU countries are contributing to the new Triton mission.

Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said Friday Italy would still respond to SOS calls as required by the "the law of the seas."

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