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6,500 migrants 'rescued' in one day near Libya

August 30, 2016

The central Mediterranean route has witnessed a surge in migrants since the so-called Balkan route was closed. More than 3,000 migrants have died this year attempting the perilous journey.

Mittelmeer Rettung von Flüchtlingen
Image: picture alliance/AP Photo/E. Morenatti

The Italian coastguard on Monday said it coordinated the rescue of some 6,500 migrants off the coast of Libya, one of the largest single-day operations this year.

"The command center coordinated 40 rescue operations" that included vessels from the EU's border agency Frontex and humanitarian organizations, the coastguard said on its official Twitter account.

The central Mediterranean route has witnessed a surge in migrants making the perilous journey after the so-called Balkan route was effectively shuttered earlier this year.

In July, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) announced that more than 3,000 people have died crossing the Mediterranean from Libya.

"This is the earliest that we have seen the 3,000 (deaths) mark, this occurred in September of 2014 and October of 2015," said IOM spokesman Joel Millman.

The Italian government, in partnership with IOM, has launched a media campaign on television, radio and social media platforms to dissuade African migrants from making the deadly journey.

However, thousands of migrants have continued to cross the Mediterranean since the "Migrants Aware" campaign was launched at the end of July.

The EU expanded its anti-people smuggling operation in the Mediterranean in June, which included training for the Libyan coastguard.

Economic migrants comprised 60 percent of last year's 154,000 arrivals, said Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano. He added that Italy and the rest of the EU "cannot welcome everybody."

More than 6,500 migrants rescued off coast of Libya

ls/gsw (AFP, AP, EPD)

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