Around 5,800 people were rescued in joint missions by the Italian and French coastguards this weekend, in one of the largest rescues of migrants in the Mediterranean to date.
A further 10 bodies were rescued off the Libyan coast, the Italian coast guard reports.
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Some of the refugees, saved in several different incidents including overloaded small wooden boats and rubber dinghies, will arrive in Italy over over the next 24 hours. Other boats were towed back to Libya.
While most of the operation was coordinated and carried out by Italian coastguard, French ship Commandant Birot saved 217 people from three vessels and detained two alleged people smugglers.
“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,” said Flavio Di Giacomo, representative of International Organization for Migration.
The volume of refugees traveling across the treacherous ocean from Libya to Europe has surged this year, resulting in a massive increase of fatalities.
The worst week for the disturbing trend was recorded in April when around 1,200 drowned.
The total number of migrants killed this year is almost 20 times higher than at the same point in 2014, when 96 had not survived the journey.
In late April and emergency European Union summit was called following the most bloody week, which nongovernmental organization Save the Children described as “a small step back from the moral abyss.”
The spotlight was on the European nations to find a more humanitarian solution to the crisis, having been criticized for focusing efforts on tackling human traffickers rather than stepping up rescues efforts.