Subscribe

On becalmed sea, Italy rescues nearly 4,000 migrants in 24 hours

Italy's coast guard reported that more boats have begun sailing from North Africa as the crossing is smoother. The rescues took place over the course of one day and involved many vessels. 

  • close
    Migrant Offshore Aid Station founder Regina Catrambone of Italy watches as the MV Phoenix sails from Malta on May 2, 2015. The 40-metre ship MV Phoenix left Malta on Saturday for a six-month mission to search for and rescue migrants in the Mediterranean. The Phoenix is the first privately funded vessel to operate in the Mediterranean.
    Darrin Zammit Lupi/Reuters
    View Caption
  • About video ads
    View Caption
of

Ships rescued 3,690 migrants in just one day from smugglers' boats on the Mediterranean Sea off the Libyan coast, the Italian Coast Guard said Sunday.

The agency said 17 different rescue operations were carried out Saturday after smugglers took advantage of calm seas and warm weather to move the migrants out of Africa on motorized rubber dinghies and fishing boats.

Some of the migrants were being brought Sunday to ports in Sicily while others were expected to reach Calabria, in the south of the Italian mainland, on Monday, as temporary shelters for those rescued were reaching full capacity on the Mediterranean island.

While there was no issue with the weather, the smugglers often use include aging vessels that sometimes begin leaking shortly after leaving Libya. The boats are crammed with too many people as traffickers try to maximize earnings off the migrants, who pay hundreds of euros (dollars) for the passage between the Mediterranean's southern shore and Italy.

It is not uncommon for thousands of migrants to be rescued over a day or two.

The relentless flood of migrants is continuing this year after 170,000 were rescued at sea by Italy in 2014 — a 277 percent increase over the numbers in 2013. Italy has pressed the European Union to do more to help it save the migrants, especially since many of those plucked to safety are asylum seekers hoping to reach relatives in northern Europe.

An estimated 800 migrants drowned last month when their boat capsized off Libya with hundreds of them locked in the hold by smugglers. After that, European Union officials at an emergency meeting agreed to beef up the Triton rescue mission with boats and patrol aircraft contributed by several countries. Italy, often pressing nearby cargo ships into service, coordinates the rescue operations.

Overall, a record 280,000 illegal border crossings were detected in the 28-nation EU last year, according to Frontex, Europe's border agency.

 
 
Make a Difference
Inspired? Here are some ways to make a difference on this issue.
FREE Newsletters
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.
 

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK