More than 2,000 refugees rescued off Libya's coast

Refugee arrivals in Italy by sea are up 40 percent this year, with 8,500 people arriving in the last two weeks alone, according to the Italian Coast Guard.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Illegal migrants sit at Gasr Garabulli port after they were rescued by Libyan Coast Guard, east of Tripoli, Libya, May 18, 2017.

Rescuers pulled 2,121 migrants to safety from boats in the Mediterranean late on Friday and early on Saturday and recovered one dead body, the Italian coastguard said.

The Italian Coast Guard says the migrants were attempting to make it to Italy.

The rescue operations involved two ships operated by the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) Sea Eye and Jugend Rettet and a Spanish vessel participating in the EU's EUNAVFOR mission in the Mediterranean, the coastguard said.

The coastguard did not give any details about the migrants. Most sea-borne migrants arriving in Italy are from Sub-Saharan Africa or Bangladesh and pay Libya-based smugglers to organise their passage.

More than 45,000 people have reached Italy by boat from North Africa this year, up more than 40 percent from the same period in 2016, and 1,222 people are known to have died on the perilous crossing, according to the International Organisation for Migration. 

More than 8,500 migrants arrived in Italy during the past two weeks.

TRTWorld and agencies