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6,500 migrants rescued off Libya coast

A handout picture taken on August 20, 2016 by the Italian Red Cross shows a migrant aboard a rescue boat run by the Malta-based NGO Migrant Offshore Aid Station. (Representative Image) Photograph: (AFP)

WION Rome, Italy Aug 30, 2016, 03.32 AM (IST)
The Italian coastguard on Monday rescued around 6,500 migrants off the coast of Libya in an operation that had as many as 700 people crammed onto one fishing boat.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF), which was part of the operations, informed that a five-day-old baby was among those rescued and was airlifted to an Italian hospital.

Vessels from Italy’s humanitarian organisations as well as EU's border agency Frontex were involved in the operations.

More than 1,100 migrants were rescued in the same area on Sunday. 

According to the UN’s refugee agency and the coastguard, a total of 112,500 migrants have arrived in Italy so far this year against last year’s 116,000 up to August.

Most of these are from West Africa and the Horn of Africa, often departing from Libya. 

The Italian coastguard is expecting more migrant boats soon, given the favourable weather conditions.

Vessels run by humanitarian groups often patrol the waters off the Libyan coast, but rival factions are now trying to control migrant trafficking.

More than 3,000 migrants have died at sea while trying to reach either Greece or Italy 
this year, 50 per cent more than that in 2015.

Europe recorded the arrival of 204,000 in the first six months of 2016, the UN refugee agency informed, with the continent calling it its worst migration crisis since World War II.

More than a million migrants had landed in Europe last year, most fleeing war in Syria and the Middle East.

(WION with inputs from agencies)
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