Italy rescues up to 8,000 migrants in five days

Sunday 31/07/2016
More than 3,000 have died at sea since start of 2016

ROME - More than 1,500 migrants were rescued from waters off Libya Monday, lifting the total picked up to 8,000 over five days, according to the Italian coastguard which coordinated the operations.

Vessels from the coastguard, the Italian navy, humanitarian organisations and EU anti-trafficking operation Sophia were involved in 14 different rescue missions.

The latest rescues will lift to around 94,000 the number of migrants brought to Italian ports this year, roughly in line with the pattern of 2015, according to Flavio Di Giacomo, a spokesman for the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

The number of migrants trying to reach Europe via the Greek islands has dropped sharply since an EU-Turkey deal designed to stem the flow was agreed in March.

Numbers on that route are running at dozens per day rather than the thousands per day seen this time last year.

More than 3,000 migrants have died at sea while trying to reach either Greece or Italy since the start of this year, an increase of some 50 percent on the same period in 2015.