Italian navy and coast guard ships rescued around 1,500 migrants aboard five boats in the Mediterranean in less than 24 hours, officials said today.
All of the migrants were rescued on Saturday in five separate operations. Three of the migrants’ boats were in difficulty and sent rescue requests via satellite phones. The Italian vessels spotted the other two boats while heading for the others. The migrants were transferred to the Italian ships and taken to either the island of Lampedusa or ports in Sicily.
About 170,000 migrants entered the European Union through Italy last year by way of the dangerous sea crossing organised by human traffickers. Most departed from Libya with more than 3,000 perishing en route
During the first two months of this year, arrivals were up by 43 per cent compared to the same period of 2014, officials have said.
The governments of southern EU countries – including Italy, Malta, Greece and Spain – have criticised the failure of the 28-nation bloc to devote more resources to the growing immigration crisis.