More than 3,400 migrants rescued by EU ships in Mediterranean

European Union patrol ships rescued more than 3 thousand migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea on Saturday

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Italian coast guard has confirmed that 3,427 migrants have been rescued off Libyan coast in the Mediterranean Sea during an operation.

16 vessels including the French patrol boat Commandant Birot which was sent by the EU to help increase patrols in the Mediterranean was part of the rescue operation as well. 

The Commandant Birot has rescued 217 migrants traveling in three rubber dinghies and arrested two people allegedly smugglers handing them over to Italian officials. 

According to the AFP news agency, the Italian frigate Bersagliere rescued 778 migrants, and the Italian patrol ship Vega was recorded rescuing 675 more migrants. 

The Italian coast guard stated that the French patrol vessel is expected to land the rescued migrants at a part in Calabria, south of Italy.

While some migrants rescued by the Italian coast guard were expected to be placed in the Island of Lampedusa in Italy on Saturday night, most of the migrants rescued will land in Sicily or southern Italy on Sunday.

The operations came after an April 23 decision by European Union to increase patrols in the Mediterranean Sea against human trafficking, following death of more than 800 migrants on April 20 when an overcrowded boat capsized in the sea between Italy and Libya. 

More than 5,000 migrants died drawing since the start of this year as the humanitarian situation in the Middle East and Africa continues to urge people to leave their homelands in hope of a new life in the west. 

​The European Union detected more than 280,000 illegal border crossings in 2014 while more 170,000 migrants came crossing the Mediterranean Sea, almost quadrupling the number from a year earlier.

TRTWorld and agencies