Europe

AP PHOTOS: European navy ship rescues migrants off Libya

  • In this March 29, 2016 picture German Navy sailors ad Finish Special Forces surround a boat with  migrants near the German combat supply ship 'Frankfurt am Main' during   EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Libya .  (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

    In this March 29, 2016 picture German Navy sailors ad Finish Special Forces surround a boat with migrants near the German combat supply ship 'Frankfurt am Main' during EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Libya . (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this March 29, 2016 picture,  rescued migrants sit in a German Navy boat besides Finish Special Forces,  prior to board the German combat supply ship 'Frankfurt am Main' during EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Libya. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

    In this March 29, 2016 picture, rescued migrants sit in a German Navy boat besides Finish Special Forces, prior to board the German combat supply ship 'Frankfurt am Main' during EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Libya. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this March 29, 2016  picture German Navy sailors and  Special Forces from Finland  help migrants to board the German combat supply ship 'Frankfurt am Main' during  EU NAVFOR MED Operation Sophia in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Libya.  (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

    In this March 29, 2016 picture German Navy sailors and Special Forces from Finland help migrants to board the German combat supply ship 'Frankfurt am Main' during EU NAVFOR MED Operation Sophia in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Libya. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)  (The Associated Press)

The surge of migrants arriving in Greece on small boats from nearby Turkey made headlines last year, prompting countries to try to shut down that route into Europe. Now concerns are growing that people trying to reach Europe may return to the longer and more dangerous crossing from North Africa to Italy.

On Tuesday, a German naval vessel picked up more than 100 people crammed into an inflatable boat that had been launched from the shore of Libya nine hours earlier.

Completely overloaded and reeking of spilled gasoline, the dinghy was met by German sailors and Finnish special forces serving on the German combat support ship Frankfurt am Main. The vast ship is part of the European Union Naval Force Mediterranean, also known as Operation Sophia.

Once on board the migrants were registered, checked for weapons and given a medical examination. They were given food, water, a blanket, change of clothes and a blue German navy hat to help protect them from the Mediterranean sun.

Two hours after being picked up, the migrants — 78 men, 24 women and three children from Nigeria, Ghana and Mali — were transferred to the Italian navy frigate Grecale to be taken to Sicily.

Here's a gallery of images by AP photographer Matthias Schrader.

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