This just in _ Italian Navy and Coast Guard vessels rescued about 2,200 migrants coming from north Africa and some from the middle east over the past two days, the authorities said Wednesday…
The Italian authorities, working with three merchant ships, saved 2,140 migrants along the southern coast of Sicily on Tuesday, and the coast guard rescued 60 Eritrean and Syrian migrants about 10 miles east of the Italian island of Lampedusa the following day.
“This is a very serious emergency and the toll will rise; we estimate that about another 2,000 more people will be coming in the next days,” the spokesman for the International Organization for Migration in Italy. “We have never seen 13 boats coming at once, especially in January. We had many arrivals from Tunisia in 2011, but that was the Arab Spring.”
The number of migrants reaching Italian shores in the first months of the year were 10 times as high as in the same period for 2015, IOM Spokesman said. About 500 migrants were rescued by the Italian authorities from December to January last year.
Most of the boats intercepted in recent days were sailing from Libya, the authorities said. Italy has increasingly struggled with the influx of migrants from North Africa who have attempted to cross the Mediterranean, often in old wooden boats, The civil war in Syria has added to the problem, with thousands of Syrians attempting to make the perilous journey.