The Italian Coast Guard oversaw the rescue of more than 2,700 migrants who were attempting to cross the perilous Strait of Sicily from North Africa to Italy Monday.
Authorities have corrected earlier estimates that placed the number of migrants rescued Monday at only 500, along with the recovery of eight corpses of migrants who drowned at sea. Official figures now place the number of migrants rescued in the past 24 hours at nearly 3,000 in a total of 23 rescue operations, along with 15 dead bodies pulled from the water.
Aided by the Italian navy and the humanitarian group Doctors without Borders and the Red Cross, the Coast Guard rescued migrants on board 19 larger vessels and four small boats.
As summer draws to a close the number of migrants attempting the crossing into Italy has risen sharply, and during the last week of August some 13,000 arrived on Italian shores.
As of last week, Italy had taken in some 122,000 migrants so far this year, according to the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR).
Since the so-called “Balkan route” was effectively shut down last spring, Italy has become the focal point of Europe’s migrant crisis, the worst immigration Europe has faced since the Second World War.
Because of an arrangement between the European Union’s (EU) and Turkey, the flow of migrants through Greece into northern Europe slowed considerably since last spring, but Turkish President Recip Tayyip Erdogan has recently threatened to release as many as 3 million migrants if the EU fails to grant visa-free European travel to Turks by October.
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