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Nearly 3,700 migrants at sea rescued off coast of Libya, taken to Italy

By
Andrew V. Pestano
Italy is dealing with an influx of immigrants by sea due to an exodus from war-torn North African and Middle East countries. File Photo by Natursports/Shutterstock
Italy is dealing with an influx of immigrants by sea due to an exodus from war-torn North African and Middle East countries. File Photo by Natursports/Shutterstock

ROME, May 3 (UPI) -- Italian and French navy ships rescued nearly 3,700 migrants near the coast of Libya in 17 different operations on Saturday and early Sunday.

The migrants were transported to Italy. At least 1,750 people have died attempting to cross the Mediterranean in 2015.

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Flavio Di Giacomo, spokesman for the International Organisation for Migration, said crossing was becoming more dangerous.

"Unfortunately the boats upon which migrants are forced to travel are always more rundown and dangerous, and therefore the risk of shipwrecks is evermore present," he told The Guardian.

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To avoid more migrant deaths, Di Giacomo urges for more search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea.

About 800 people died when a single boat capsized in April.

According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 218,000 people crossed the Mediterranean using irregular routes in 2014 and 3,500 died. Italy alone dealt with about 170,000 such refugees in that time.

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A representative of the "Save the Children" humanitarian organization, Linda Bordoni, said she expects up to 2,500 children to die in this summer's expected inflow of migrants to Europe.

Italy, a country hard-pressed to deal with an influx of refugees from war-torn North African and Middle East countries who arrive by boat and often require rescue at sea, is seeking support for an initiative involving the United Nations to destroy traffickers' boats. Other proposals at the Brussels meeting involve expanded use of maritime patrols to rescue migrants, and a German plan to spread landed migrants more evenly throughout Europe.

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Ed Adamczyk contributed to this report.

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