Italian coastguards have rescued over 4, 000 migrants since Sunday

Orient Net - AFP 2016-05-26 10:26:00

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Italian coastguards have rescued over 4, 000 migrants since Sunday off Sicily.

Italy’s coastguard said Tuesday it had rescued some 4,000 migrants in the past two days, adding to fears of a fresh push to reach Europe via that route as the number of migrants landing in Greece sharply recedes.

On Tuesday, 2,154 migrants were brought to safety in the Strait of Sicily between Italy and north Africa, on top of the 1,850 rescued in the area on Monday, the coastguard said.

A vessel from the EU border agency Frontex and a Greek cargo ship assisted the Italian navy in conducting a total of 25 rescue operations involving 16 dinghies and a rowing boat, officials said. All the passengers survived.

On Monday, 115 migrants had been rescued by Libyan authorities after their boat got into trouble near the capital Tripoli.

The arrivals represent a sharp increase on the average daily numbers landing in Italy since the start of the year.

According to the United Nations, 19,900 migrants have crossed the Mediterranean to Italy so far this year, compared with 153,000 landing in Greece.

Calmer seas at the onset of spring are encouraging greater numbers of migrants to attempt the perilous crossing to Italy after a winter lull.

There are also concerns that European efforts to shut down the migrant sea crossing from Turkey to Greece will encourage more people to attempt the more dangerous Mediterranean passage from Libya to Italy.