Republic of Ireland news

Irish naval vessels rescues more than 400 migrants close to Libya

The LÉ James Joyce rescued more than 400 migrants from boats off the coast of Libya. Picture from RTE
Staff Reporter

AN Irish naval vessel was involved in the rescue of almost 2,000 people from 18 boats off the coast of Libya.

The crew of the LÉ James Joyce took on more than 400 migrants on Saturday and provided food, water and medical treatment.

The operation followed a request by the Italian Maritime Rescue Co-Ordination Centre.

It came as a former Archbishop of Canterbury joined more than 200 religious leaders to call on British Prime Minister Theresa May to do more to help refugees fleeing Syria, Iraq and other warzones.

Lord Dr Rowan Williams will deliver a speech today as leaders of Britain's major faiths criticise the government's response to the crisis as "too slow, too low and too narrow".

Last week, the government announced it had secured enough local authority places to meet a pledge to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees over the next four years.

And in a major u-turn earlier this year former Prime Minister David Cameron committed to accepting 3,000 unaccompanied children registered in France, Italy and Greece.

But the Christian, Muslim and Jewish clerics, alongside lead representatives of other faiths, signed an open letter urging Mrs May to unblock rules preventing refugee families being reunited in the UK.

Their letter follows similar calls from around 300 top former judges and lawyers, approximately 120 of the world's senior economists, and 27 charities and NGOs.

Signatories to the letter include bishops and members of the House of Lords, including Baroness Rabbi Julia Neuberger, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain Harun Rashid Khan, as well as senior rabbis, imams and senior figures from other faiths.

Meanwhile, the European Union has said it will more than double emergency aid to Greece to improve living conditions for refugees and migrants who have been stranded in the country for months.

Just under 60,000 refugees and migrants are stuck in Greece after their attempts to head to central and northern Europe were prevented by a cascade of border shutdowns throughout the Balkans at the start of the year.

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