2200 migrants rescued from Mediterranean in one day

12:08 pm on 25 October 2016

About 2200 migrants were plucked to safety and 16 bodies were recovered from the Mediterranean Sea yesterday, the Italian Coast Guard said.

This handout picture taken and released by the Italian Red Cross on October 22, 2016 shows migrants landing in Vibo Marina, after a rescue operation in the Mediterranean Sea.

This image from the Italian Red Cross shows migrants landing in Vibo Marina in Italy after a rescue operation over the weekend. Photo: AFP

A statement from the coastguard said its ships, as well as fishing boats, merchant ships and vessels from humanitarian organisations took part in 21 separate operations.

The central Mediterranean route between North Africa and Italy is a highly perilous one for migrants.

More than 3100 people have gone missing or died this year while trying to use this route to reach Europe by boat, the International Organization for Migration estimates.

Monday's missions rescued migrants on 18 rubber boats and three small crafts, the statement said.

Last year more than one million migrants - many fleeing the civil war in Syria - arrived in Europe. Some countries said they struggled to cope and division arose in the EU over how best to deal with resettling people.

An EU-Turkey pact to try to stop migrants crossing to Greece and moves by Balkan nations to close their borders have driven down the number of people using the so-called eastern Mediterranean route.

However, migrants from African countries such as Eritrea and Somalia as well as West African nations such as Nigeria and the Gambia are continuing to attempt the crossing from Libya to Italy.

Figures from August show about 106,000 people have arrived in Italy so far in 2016 while 2726 have died in the attempt, according to the International Organization for Migration.

It said there was a further 275,000 in Libya waiting to travel.

Overall, about 284,000 refugees and migrants have entered Europe so far this year through various transit routes across Africa, Asia or the Middle East.

- Reuters / BBC

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