LAMPEDUSA , Italy, Aug. 30 (UPI) — About 6,500 migrants to Europe were rescued off the Libyan coast in 40 coordinated missions, the Italian Coast Guard reported Tuesday.
The action Monday, 12 miles off the coast of Sabratha, Libya, pushed the number of people rescued in the Mediterranean Sea and taken to Italy beyond 100,000 in the past year. Most began their voyage from Libya, which has become a hub for refugees of violence and poverty in the Middle East, Eritrea and Somalia since a land route from Turkey to EU nations was closed in March.
The large-scale rescue, by Italy, the European Union border agency Frontex and non-governmental organizations Proactiva Open Arms and Doctors Without Borders, came the day after 1,100 migrants were rescued in the Strait of Sicily.
An estimated 2,726 people have died in the crossing attempt in the past year, the International Organization for Migration reported, adding another 275,000 are in Libya and ready to travel to Europe. Smugglers in Libya arrange voyages of migrants aboard often unseaworthy ships; low-quality rubber boats now account for four out of five vessels used, Frontex said.
The number of migrants arriving in Italy in July increased 12 percent over the same period in 2015, to 25,300, Frontex reported. The number entering EU countries by land declined 97 percent in July.