4,400 People Rescued in a Single Day off Libya

Around 4,400 people were rescued outside Libyan territorial waters within 24 hours between Saturday and Sunday, in one of the busiest days in the Mediterranean this year.

A rescue operation on Saturday coordinated by the Italian navy. Photo: Italian Navy

A rescue operation on Saturday coordinated by the Italian navy. Photo: Italian Navy

In a statement on Sunday, the Italian coastguard said multiple May Days were launched almost simultaneously from several wooden boats and dinghies throughout the day on Saturday.

The operation was run by the Rome rescue centre but involved Italian military and coastguard along with the Norwegian vessel Siem Pilot, the Irish Navy ship Le Niamh, and the UK’s Enterprise which is part of the EU intelligence mission EUNAVFOR Med.

Its not clear whether the number actually constitutes a record, however, there have been days when more than 4,000 people were rescued both this year and last year.

According to the latest statistics released by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) by August 20 Italy had received 103,864 migrants and asylum seekers.

But the central Mediterranean route has been overtaken this year by the movement of people from Turkey to Greece, which in 2015 saw a staggering 750% increase in asylum seekers landing on its shores compared to last year.

According to the IOM data, by August 20, Greece had received 149,028 people.

The numbers are also being reflected in the amount of deaths. The latest official count, also according to IOM is of 2,300.

The crisis has also moved north this year. On Saturday, thousands of rain-soaked migrants stormed across Macedonia’s border as police lobbed stun grenades and beat them with batons, seeking to enforce a decree to stem their flow through the Balkans to western Europe.