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This latest rescue mission brings the total number of migrants rescued by Royal Navy ships in the Mediterranean to almost 7,000 since May.

As part of of the EU Naval Force Operation in the Mediterranean countering migrant smugglers, HMS Enterprise has rescued 439 migrants and HMS Richmond has rescued 102 migrants.

Before HMS Richmond arrived on task, she was involved in identifying people smugglers on her way to her starting location, leading to the detention of suspected people traffickers.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:

“The Royal Navy continues to demonstrate its invaluable work in the Mediterranean, saving 541 vulnerable lives.

Our focus remains on hitting the criminal gangs responsible for endangering the lives of innocent people. We are determined to tackle this at source. The new powers we have to board boats and detain the smugglers will help us put an end to this trade in human misery.”

The European migrant crisis became widely noticed used in April this year when five boats carrying almost two thousand migrants to Europe sank in the Mediterranean Sea, with a combined death toll estimated at more than 1,200 people.

The shipwrecks took place in a context of ongoing conflicts and refugee crises in several Middle Eastern and African countries and have resulted in numerous naval deployments by many EU nations in an effort to stem the crisis.

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