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October 21, 2019
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Italy rescues 8,300 migrants in five days

ROME: Some 1,800 migrants were rescued from waters off Libya Monday, lifting the total picked up to 8,300 over five days, according to the Italian coastguard which coordinated the operations.

Vessels from the coastguard, the Italian navy, humanitarian organisations and EU anti-trafficking operation Sophia were involved in 16 operations to save people from 14 inflatable dinghies and two small wooden boats.

The latest rescues will lift to over 94,000 the number of migrants brought to Italian ports this year, roughly in line with the pattern of 2015, according to Flavio Di Giacomo, a spokesman for the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

The number of migrants trying to reach Europe via the Greek islands has dropped sharply since an EU-Turkey deal designed to stem the flow was agreed in March.

Numbers on that route are running at dozens per day rather than the thousands per day seen this time last year.

More than 3,000 migrants have died at sea while trying to reach either Greece or Italy since the start of this year, an increase of some 50 percent on the same period in 2015.