Ten Separate Migrant Rescue Operations in Strait of Sicily in 24 Hours

A picture taken at sea shows the transfer of immigrants from the tanker 'Torm Lotte' to tug boat 'Grifone' in the middle of Messina's marine channel following a rescue operation on July 20, 2014.

As thousands of migrants set sail from north Africa, Italian naval vessels have conducted ten different rescue operations of foundering vessels laden with migrants in the space of just 24 hours.

So far, the Navy ships have rescued 1,759 people trying to cross the perilous Strait of Sicily to reach Italian soil, and are transporting them to the southern Italian island of Sicily, while thousands more are arriving under their own steam.

Improved weather conditions in the Strait of Sicily have encouraged more and more migrants and their human smugglers to attempt the crossing, even though the sea is still very rough and the vessels are more often than not unsuited for the passage.

In spite of intensive discussions between European heads of government to find a solution to Europe’s migrant crisis, landings on the southern shores of the Old Continent continue without intermission.

Besides those rescued, another 4,500 migrants arrived on Italian shores in the last day and a half, and another 2,000 are expected to arrive during the day on Friday.

In anticipation of summer and the subsequent influx in migrants, the Interior Ministry is preparing a special plan to restructure a number of old army barracks to be allocated to migrants and refugees: from Piedmont to Puglia, from Lombardy to Lazio structures that belonged to the Armed Forces are being reconditioned to accommodate asylum seekers.

Meanwhile, in the Sicilian city of Messina, state police have arrested nine suspected Egyptians smugglers believed to be responsible for a migrant smuggling trip carrying 249 passengers that landed in Sicily on May 1.

Six of the alleged smugglers were transferred to the Gazzi prison, while the three others, all under 18 years of age, were sent to the reception center for minors in Catania.

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