The Italian Coast Guard announced that a total of 1,230 migrants had been rescued in the course of nine rescue operations in the Strait of Sicily on Sunday, bringing the total to more than 4,000 over the past four days.
On Saturday, the Coast Guard said it had picked up 1,348 migrants in 11 rescue operations for a weekend total of 2,578. The Coast Guard also said that one dead body had also been recovered.
In the many rescue missions, the Coast Guard was assisted by the Italian Navy, Doctors without Borders and the Spanish unit Rio Segura.
According to data provided by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, prior to these last rescues, more than 48,000 migrants had arrived in Italy since the beginning of the year, nearly all originating from sub-Saharan Africa.
Authorities expect numbers to remain high throughout the summer as thousands of Africans aboard makeshift boats will depart from the Libyan coast, where a political vacuum exists ever since long-term leader Muammar Gaddafi was brought down in 2011.
The Strait of Sicily, which separates Italy from North Africa, has proved particularly dangerous, with numerous shipwrecks and deaths resulting from attempts by migrants to cross over to Italian shores.
Since the so-called Italy “Balkan route” through Greece was effectively closed down earlier this year, Italy has taken over as the primary point of entry and is on the front line of Europe’s migrant crisis, which is now in its third year.
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