More than 370 people were rescued off the Libyan coast this week after their vessels were detected on satellite images taken as part of Frontex’s Eurosur Fusion Services. The operation was made possible by the cooperation between experts at Frontex and the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), Italian authorities and EUNAVFORMED.
On Tuesday, 6 October, Frontex Situation Centre in cooperation with EMSA spotted several small boats on a satellite scan of an area close to the Libyan coast, where migrant boats in distress are often detected. The information was passed on to the Italian authorities, which informed the EUNAVFORMED flagship Cavour present in the area.
As a result, more than 370 migrants aboard three rubber boats were rescued and brought to the Italian shores. The people included nine children and four pregnant women.
Eurosur is an information exchange framework designed to improve the management of Europe’s external borders.
The Eurosur services already include automated large vessel tracking and detection capabilities, software functionalities allowing complex calculations for predicting positions and detecting suspicious activities of vessels, as well as precise weather and oceanographic forecasts. Fusion Services use optical and radar satellite technology to help locate vessels at sea. Recent upgrades of their technical capabilities make it possible to spot smaller vessels.
Last month, the Greek Coast Guard seized some 5 000 guns and boxes with ammunition aboard a Libya-bound cargo ship that had been monitored by Frontex as part of the Eurosur Fusion Services.