EU's border operation prepares for a record number of migrants in 2015 trying to cross the Mediterranean from Africa into Europe, but with fewer resources. Gavino Garay reports.
Triton, the EU's largest-ever border operation, is bracing for a record surge of migrants from Northern Africa, as upcoming summer months are forecasted to bring calmer waters. Thousand of migrants die at the peril of deadly Mediterranean waters each year, making the voyage on makeshift rafts towards a better future in Europe. Ewa Moncure, a spokeswoman for the joint-EU mission, says she's increasingly concerned over the high number of migrants making the trek in the winter already. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FRONTEX SPOKESWOMAN EWA MONCURE, SAYING: "We are seeing, at the end of last year and also this year large numbers of migrants arriving in Italy in winter. In previous years we have not seen thousands of migrants departing in winter time, when the weather is usually bad." But the UN has criticized the rescue mission, saying it's mandate is boarder control, not search and rescue. An Icelandic coast guard vessel stands ready to deploy, and has been conducting drills to prepare. And Moncure says search and rescue is their top priority. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FRONTEX SPOKESWOMAN EWA MONCURE, SAYING: "If there is a call of distress, a call for help from a migrant boat, we always suspend all our activities and are at the disposal of the search and rescue authorities of Italy." Italy's costly Mare Nostrum search-and-rescue mission was discontinued in November, when the Triton mission began. This Icelandic vessel is just one of Triton's two larger vessels. Mare Nostrum had five. That means fewer resources for a bigger job, which critics say will only let more immigrants into Italy.