Between Monday and Tuesday, a record number of over ten thousand mostly African migrants were rescued in the Strait of Sicily and brought to Italy, bringing the year’s total to over 142,000.
The Italian Coast Guard coordinated dozens of rescue missions off the coast of Libya in the two days, assisted by the Italian Navy, the Irish Military Navy, a Frontex vessel, a merchant ship, several tugs and vessels from non-governmental organizations such as Moas, Life Boat, Open Arms, Doctors without Borders (MSF) and Watch the Med.
Monday’s Italian-led rescue operation, which recovered over 6,000 migrants, was one of the largest single-day operations of the European migration crisis.
With the latest surge in arrivals, total immigration into Italy has surpassed the number for the same period in 2015, which already represented what many considered an unsustainable number. In reaction, a number of the Italian media and politicians are decrying what they term an “invasion” of illegal immigrants into Italy.
According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), from the start of 2016 through October 1, the number of new migrants into Italy had reached 132,069. On Monday, 6,055 more migrants were rescued at sea and 4,655 more were added to that number on Tuesday, bringing the total to 142,779.
Along with the rescued survivors, 38 corpses were also recovered from the sea during the two days, including a 23-year-old pregnant woman. So far this year, more than 3,500 have died attempting to cross the Mediterranean.
Monday marked the third anniversary to the day of a watershed moment in Europe’s migrant crisis, which brought the situation to the world stage. A fishing boat packed with some 500 migrants caught fire and sank off the Italian island of Lampedusa, resulting in the deaths of 366 people.
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