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Italy’s Coast Guard rescues hundreds of migrants from turbulent seas

Italian authorities reported at least 2,000 people have been rescued from treacherous Mediterranean Sea over the weekend

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Migrants are helped disembark from the Diciotti Italian Coast Guard ship in Reggio Calabria, southern Italy, Wednesday, March 15, 2023. The Diciotti ship transferred almost 600 recently rescued migrants to Reggio Calabria from an overcrowded migrants center on the southern Italian island of Lampedusa, to be redistributed all over Italy.

Valeria Ferraro, Associated Press

Italy’s Coast Guard has rescued hundreds of people from turbulent seas who were attempting to migrate to the country.

Italian authorities reported that since Friday, “they had rescued about 2,000 people from boats that had found themselves in distress,” per The New York Times.

Where are the migrants fleeing?

Many of the people were fleeing war or poverty in their home countries in Africa — willing to attempt crossing the treacherous Mediterranean Sea to escape.

A large majority of the people came from Ivory Coast, Guinea, Bangladesh, Tunisia and Pakistan, per CNN.

At least two people have died, while 20 are still missing from a boat that sank on Saturday, per BBC.

“We are angry. This is an unspeakable tragedy that could — and should — have been prevented by a humanitarian approach to migration instead of barb-wiring the European borders,” ResQship, a German aid group, told NPR.

How is Italy responding to the migration?

The rescues come at a time when the Italian government and other European countries are trying to figure out how to deal with the high influx of people migrating to the countries.

According to the Times, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni “has promised to enact a ‘naval blockade’ against migrant boats and has tried to force charity-run ships rescuing migrants to return to an Italian port after each mission, limiting the number of migrants they can help.”

“The situation is completely chaotic,” Felix Weiss, a spokesman for Sea-Watch international, told the Times.

CNN reported that “more than 28,000 migrants have arrived in Italy so far this year” — marking a “significant surge compared to recent years.”

Since 2014, more than 26,000 people have died or gone missing traveling in the central Mediterranean Sea, according to monitoring group IOM Missing Migrants Project.