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Italy's coast guard rescues 2,200 migrants

October 25, 2016

The Italian Coast Guard announced Monday they saved more than 2,000 migrants in the Mediterranean Sea over the course of multiple missions during the day. They also recovered dozens of bodies.

Italien Ankunft von 650 Flüchtlingen in Neapel
Image: picture-alliance/Pacific Press/M. Amoruso

After coordinating 21 different rescue missions, the Italian Coast Guard announced they saved 2,200 migrants on the Mediterranean Sea on Monday.

Migrants were found floating in 18 rubber dinghies and three smaller boats. The European Union's migrant rescue force, fishing boats and cargo ships also helped with the rescue efforts. Most of the boats in trouble came from Libya, frequently used by as a departure point for smugglers bringing people into Europe over the Mediterranean Sea.

Monday's rescues come after the coast guard saved 4,000 people over the weekend. Italy has called upon the European Union to provide more help to bear the burden of rescuing migrants at sea and returning those who do not qualify for asylum. The country's interior ministry said more than 153,000 registered migrants have arrived in Italy since the beginning of 2016. That's roughly equal to the total in 2015, and puts this year's figures on track to meet the record of 170,000 from 2014.

Deaths continue to mount

The Libya to Italy route remains one of the deadliest passages for migrants seeking refuge in Europe. Some 3,700 have died crossing the Mediterranean Sea this year according to the United Nations. Of those, more than 3,100 are estimated to have died attempting to cross into Italy from Libya.

Rescuers also reported recovering 33 bodies in the missions.

Frustration around Europe

The migrant crisis has caused consternation around Europe for locals and for migrants. The migrant camp in Calais, France, known as "The Jungle," started to shut down Monday under the orders of French authorities. Hundreds of buses began taking migrants out of the camp and to reception centers around France, where they can apply for asylum.

Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar announced Monday he would strengthen border controls, including enhancing metal fences, to prepare for potential new waves of migrants into Europe. Cerar said an increase in the number of migrants is a "realistic probability, and we have to be ready for that scenario." Balkan countries along a popular migration route closed their borders in March after more than one million migrants came through in 2015.

Dozens of residents in an island camp for refugees and other migrants set fire to a part of the facility that handles asylum applications during a protest on Monday over delays in the process. No one was injured at the camp on Greek island of Lesbos, but three cabins used as offices by asylum officials were badly damaged. Riot police detained 22 of the suspected 70 people involved.

kbd/gsw (AFP, AP, Reuters)