Italy says 4,500 migrants rescued near Libya

Italy says 4,500 migrants rescued near Libya
The Italian coast guard said some 4,500 people were rescued from rubber dinghies and wooden boats in the Mediterranean on Thursday.
2 min read
24 June, 2016
Many of the migrants are from Sub-Saharan and eastern Africa [Getty]
Italy's coast guard said on Thursday that it had rescued some 4,500 migrants travelling on smugglers' boats from Libya in a single day.

The coast guard explained that it had coordinated 40 seperate operations on Thursday in the Mediterranean, including one in which a woman's body was found in a motorised rubber dinghy.

The staggering number of people rescued is being attributed to a lull in bad weather that had prevented smugglers from launching the boats of migrants and asylum seekers.

The coast guard also commented on reports about a barge that had departed from Alexandria in Egypt carrying around 400 migrants.

The wherabouts of the boat is currently unknown, and the Italian coastguard said that it has no immediate information on the matter.
Protracted conflicts – in particular Syria's five-year civil war –have prompted an unprecedented wave of migration to Europe, with a record 1.25 million Syrians, Iraqis, Afghans and others entering the continent since January 2015.

Alongside those who risk their lives to reach Europe's Mediterranean shores from Asia are also many migrants from Sub-Saharan and eastern Africa.

Last week, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi told AFP that European leaders needed to do more to coordinate migration policies and to combat negative stereotypes about refugees.

"Refugees... don't bring danger to us, they flee from dangerous places," said Grandi, who took office in January.

National leaders need to better explain that immigration "in fact contributes to the development of societies," he said.

"Those who do the opposite, who stir up public opinion against refugees and migrants, have a responsibility in creating a climate of xenophobia that is very worrying in today's Europe," he said.

Grandi's words allude to the ongoing debate going on within European capitals about what to do with the influx of millions of migrants and asylum seekers.