UNHCR, IOM say no fewer than 9,000 migrants rescued in Mediterranean over weekend

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  • As Bomb attack leaves Dortmund fighting blood, sweat and tears battle

UN aid agencies said on Tuesday that nearly 9,000 mainly African migrants were rescued in the Mediterranean this past long Easter weekend, after setting out from Libya on unseaworthy boats to try to reach southern Italy and a gateway to Europe.

“This was an overwhelming search and rescue operation by all sides involved,” Babar Baloch, spokesman of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, told a news briefing.

Also the International Organisation for Migration spokesman Leonard Doyle said that better spring weather had encouraged smugglers to take migrants out of detention centers in Libya.

Doyle said no fewer than 900 migrants have died or have gone missing while attempting to reach Europe by sea so far this year.

He also said 36,000 others have been rescued, as against 24,000 in 2016.

In the meantime, Marc Bartra gave blood, other Borussia Dortmund players have nightmares about the bomb attack on their bus and now the German team may need the sweat of Marco Reus to pull off a fairy tale place in the Champions League last four.

Bomb attack leaves Dortmund fighting blood, sweat and tears battle.

The scars left by three bombs that scorched the side of the bus and fired metal shards inside before the quarter-final against Monaco have gone much further than Bartra’s fractured wrist.

The game was postponed but Dortmund were forced to play 24 hours later. The shock was apparent in the 3-2 defeat that has left the German side facing a stiff challenge in Wednesday’s return leg.

So far nobody has been caught — one Islamist suspect was discounted — and no claim of responsibility has proved convincing.

“I wake up every night,” Dortmund’s Swiss goalkeeper Roman Burki said. “Without any reason, I am jolted awake in terror. Then I can’t get back to sleep and I am just relieved I am at home in my own bed.”

Burki recalled the horror of the “huge bang” in an interview with Swiss newspaper Der Bund.

“The pressure made all our heads turn to one side. Then there was a long silence and then a cry — it was Bartra.”

Burki says he cannot understand why a football team would be the target of “a terror attack.”

Dortmund are getting help from psychologists. “We have very good counsellors we can ask for help,” said the goalkeeper.

And the team bounced back with a 3-1 Bundesliga win over Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday. But getting over the attack will be a slow process.

For Bürki, football is a key part of the therapy. “I’m happy to have something I can focus on. It is very important to be able to take your mind off things, think less about what has happened.”

The team gathered to hold up a Bartra jersey after Saturday’s win. Many of them were in tears.

“During the 90 minutes of the game it was easier. But at the end, everything you have kept inside under pressure comes out,” said captain Marcel Schmelzer.

“Against Frankfurt we showed a lot of joy playing because we are happy to be here. We talk a lot about it to each other. I think it will weld us together as a team,” the skipper added.

NAN with additional report from Punch

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