In April, Berlin proposed at the EU Refugee Summit that two German warships, Hessen and Berlin, participate in rescues operations in the Mediterranean Sea. The vessels have life rafts, life vests, blankets, medicines and eight doctors on board.
The ships started their mission on May 5. Last week, Hessen and Berlin saved over 400 refugees. Europe is currently experiencing a dramatic increase in maritime migration as refugees flee conflicts and poverty in North Africa and the Middle East. Thousands of migrants drown in the Mediterranean while attempting to reach European coasts.
The deadliest incident occurred in April, when a boat heading from Libya to Italy with some 900 migrants capsized in the Mediterranean Sea, resulting in the deaths of almost all on board. Following the accident, the European Union agreed to triple financial support for rescue operations in the sea.
According to the International Organization of Migration, (IOM) about 3,000 refugees died last year crossing the Mediterranean assisted by people smugglers. Most of migrants come to Europe from Africa and the Middle East, in a bid to escape violence and poverty in their home countries.