January 27, 2023

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More than 1,000 migrants arrived in Italy within hours, while hundreds more, rescued by humanitarian ships, waited at a port to receive them, NGOs and authorities said on Sunday.

Between January 1 and July 22, 34,000 people arrived in Italy by sea, compared to 25,500 in the same period in 2021 and 10,900 in 2020, according to Italy’s interior ministry.

More than 600 people attempting to cross the Mediterranean on board a drifting fishing vessel were rescued on Saturday by a merchant vessel and coast guards off the coast of Calabria, at the southernmost tip of Italy.

They were landed in various ports in Sicily.

Authorities also recovered five bodies of migrants who died in unknown circumstances.

About 522 people from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia, among others, arrived on the island of Lampedusa in the late hours of Saturday in 15 different boats from Tunisia and Libya.

According to Italian media, the island’s reception center is overloaded.

With a capacity of 250-300 people, it currently accommodates 1,200, according to the Ansa news agency.

Offshore NGOs continued to salvage hundreds of migrants in distress in the Mediterranean.

SeaWatch reported four rescue operations on Saturday.

“Onboard SeaWatch3, we have 428 people, including women and children, a woman who is nine months pregnant and a patient with severe burns,” it said on its Twitter account.

OceanViking, operated by the non-governmental organization SOS Mediterranean, reported it had rescued 87 people, including 57 unaccompanied minors, who had been crammed onto “an overcrowded inflatable boat in distress in international waters off the coast of Libya.”

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The migration route through the Central Mediterranean is the most dangerous in the world.

The International Organization for Migration estimates that 990 people have died and disappeared since the beginning of the year.