Italy coast guard: 2,700 migrants rescued in Mediterranean

Italian coast guard said on Wednesday in Rome that ships patrolling the Mediterranean picked no fewer than 2,700 migrants from overcrowded and unsafe boats on Monday with rescue operations continuing till Tuesday night.

A coast guard spokeswoman said ships from several countries, including those taking part in an EU mission called “Triton”, went to the aid of 18 different boats carrying 2,741 migrants.

She said more than 300 other migrants rescued two days ago arrived in the Sicilian port of Pozzallo on Tuesday aboard a ship run by Doctors Without Borders.

She said authorities also brought ashore a corpse in a metal coffin.

She said testimony by the migrants indicated that the victim was shot dead by men travelling on another boat near the Libyan coast.

The spokeswoman said a Sicilian court is investigating the death.

She said Italy has been trying to convince the EU to help it cope with waves of migrants arriving in overcrowded boats from North Africa.

She said the official estimates putting the total at 60,000 so far in 2015.

She said another report by the UN refugee agency estimated that over 2,000 migrants have died trying to make the crossing.

She said hundreds of migrants have taken shelter in or near Italy’s train stations, especially in Rome and Milan.

The spokeswoman added that more than 100 migrants have been sleeping on rocks along the Italy-France border for almost two weeks.

The EU in 2015 agreed to triple funding for sea rescues off the coasts of Italy and Greece but the 28-nation bloc was deeply divided on how to manage the migrants once they come ashore.

EU leaders meet later this week to discuss a European Commission plan to distribute 40,000 Syrian and Eritrean asylum seekers now stuck in Italy and Greece, among other EU nations.

The commission’s plan also foresees creating detention centres called “hot spots” to better identify migrants and refugees and calls for those who do not qualify for asylum to be quickly deported.


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