Italy says thousands of migrants rescued at sea

By REUTERS
February 25, 2017 03:29
1 minute read.
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Around 2,750 boat migrants have been rescued from the sea in the past four days, the Italian Coast Guard said on Friday, as this year's arrivals have already far outpaced the record-setting 2016.

Some 250 migrants were rescued in five separate operations in the Mediterranean on Friday, the coast guard said in a statement.

The migrants were rescued from four small vessels and a rubber boat, the coast guard said.

Some 1,100 were plucked from nine flimsy vessels off the coast of Libya on Thursday, the coast guard said, after a total of 1,360 were picked up the two preceding days.

Since the beginning of the year, there have been more than 10,700 sea arrivals, the Interior Ministry said on Thursday, a third higher than the same period last year.

Last year a record 181,000 boat migrants reached Italy and more than 5,000 died in the Mediterranean. Since 2015, more than a million-and-a-half migrants have flooded into Europe.

To stop the flow, Italy and the European Union earlier this month pledged to fund migrant camps in Libya run by the UN-backed government, and to supply equipment and training for the fight against people smugglers.

But humanitarian groups including SOS Mediterranee and Doctors Without Borders have criticized the deal, saying Libya is not safe.

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