Rescues Save 2000 Asylum Seekers From Mediterranean Sea

Rescues Save 2000 Asylum Seekers From Mediterranean Sea

At least 97 migrants died the previous Thursday, when their boat sank.

The Italian coastguard and other boats rescued some 3,000 migrants from unseaworthy boats off the Libyan coast on Saturday, as the good weather pushes the numbers up, a participating NGO said.

In February, the bodies of 74 drowned migrants washed ashore from the Mediterranean in Libya, as thousands tackle the unsafe sea crossing to Europe every year.

"We have never had to deal with so many people at the same time", said Pauline Schmidt, spokesperson for Jugend Rette.

Smugglers put most of the migrants in flimsy inflatable dinghies that get picked up by rescue ships and other vessels once they reach worldwide waters.

According to IOM, so far this year almost 800 migrants have died trying to cross the Mediterranean in the often unseaworthy vessels provided by human traffickers.

Migrants take a rest after being rescued.

More than 24,000 asylum seekers arrived to Italy from Libya during the first three months of the year, up from 18,000 in the same period last year, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

The group said it had rescued at least 453 people, but more than 1,000 remained in danger. "In 2017, the sea continues to be a graveyard", it said.

Meanwhile, in the central Mediterranean, MOAS reported 2,074 rescues conducted by "various search-and-rescue (SAR) assets on Friday, including 134 rescued by the Phoenix".

It also distributed life vests to 1,000 migrants still on smugglers' boats who are awaiting transfers to the rescue ships that will bring them to southern Italian ports.

The voice that is often missing from the discussion is often that of the migrants themselves.

Tens of thousands of migrants, mostly from sub-Saharan African countries, try to reach the shores of Spain and Italy by boat each year.

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