About 2,800 migrants so far have been saved on the southern Mediterranean

At least 2,800 migrants were rescued in the southern Mediterranean Sea between Italy and northern African coasts in the last 48 hours, Italian navy and media said on Wednesday.


They were all intercepted by Italian and other European naval forces while sailing aboard dinghies and other crowded boats, and were brought to various ports in southern Italy to receive first aid.

Migrants (Pic: AP)
Migrants (Pic: AP)

Some 730 people were saved by the Aliseo vessel on March 29, and reached the Sicilian port of Augusta on Wednesday morning, the navy said.

They were mainly from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Ghana, Gambia, Senegal and Nigeria, Italian news agency Ansa reported.

Other 381 migrants in distress were rescued by a Romanian ship and brought to Trapani in western Sicily. Among them there were 47 children and six pregnant women, according to the European Union (EU) border control agency Frontex.

The Acquarius vessel brought another 370 people to Messina, while Italy’s coast guard carried 774 to Reggio Calabria port.

On Wednesday, two boats were rescued off the coasts of Egypt with some 300 and 250 people on board respectively.

The Italian navy also assisted three boats with at least 123 migrants on board, and the coast guard rescued another 313 people sailing on two dinghies.

The Italian coast guard had already reported the rescue of 1,482 migrants off the Libyan coasts earlier in the week. They said 730 people had been saved on Sunday and 752 on Monday.

The Italian authorities and charities involved in the European migration crisis have recently signalled a sharp rise in the number of people attempting to reach Europe from African coasts.

There are fears the recent closure of the so-called Balkan route would force migrants and asylum seekers to try other ways to reach Europe, including the dangerous journey through the central and southern Mediterranean.

Some 14,492 people arrived by sea to Italy up to March 27, the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR said.

It marked a 42.5 percent increase, compared to the same period in 2015.

At least 528 people were also reported dead or missing.

A majority of migrants and refugees had so far made their way through Greece from Turkey, which would imply a much shorter sea crossing, and over 149,500 of them were registered in Greece since January, according to UNHCR data.

Earlier this month, the EU struck a deal with Turkey to stem the flow of people crossing from the Aegean Sea, and Greece has reported a drastic reduction in the arrivals since the agreement entered into force on March 20.

The effects of the EU-Turkey deal, combined with an expected improvement in sailing conditions due to warmer weather, might lead to a new significant upsurge along the sea route to Italy, analysts here warned. Endit

Source: Xinhua

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