Thousands rescued in Mediterranean

  • 20/07/2016
Thousands rescued in Mediterranean

More than 2500 migrants have been plucked from overcrowded boats off the coast of Libya and one dead body was recovered, Italy's coast guard says, as people smugglers operating in Libya took advantage of calm seas and warm weather.

A coast guard spokesman said the smugglers had sent at least 26 boats toward Italy on Tuesday, the latest in a tide of migrants fleeing war and poverty in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Three Italian navy ships participated in the rescues, picking up more than 1000 of those brought to safety so far, a statement said. British and Spanish ships participating in the European Union's anti-people smuggling mission, Sophia, also conducted rescues.

The charity Doctors Without Borders said its ship, the Argos, had rescued migrants from five boats.

A deal with Turkey and border closures have helped the EU to stem the flow of migrants from the Middle East and Asia coming through Turkey and Greece.

But Italy has received about the same number of migrants setting off from North Africa this year as during the same period of 2015.

As of Monday, 79,861 migrants had arrived in Italy by sea, compared with 83,119 during the same period of last year, while the number of migrants arriving in Greece from Turkey was down 95 percent.

Almost 3000 boat migrants have died or gone missing in the Mediterranean this year, according to the International Organization for Migration.