Some 13,000 migrants saved, over 700 dead in a week

Updated: 2016-05-31 10:37


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Some 13,000 migrants saved, over 700 dead in a week

Migrants disembark from the Italian Navy vessel Vega at the Reggio Calabria harbor, southern Italy, May 29, 2016. [Photo/Agencies]

ROME - Around 13,000 migrants have been rescued and more than 700 are feared to have died at sea in the southern Mediterranean over the past week, Italian media said on Monday.

Two major incidents took place off the Libyan coasts on Wednesday and Thursday, the latter claiming the highest death toll, including dozens of women and children, according to organizations assisting survivors.

At least 45 people died in a third disaster that took place on Friday, when 629 migrants were rescued and brought to the southern port of Reggio Calabria by the Italian navy ship Vega.

The ship also brought to land 45 bodies recovered, including that of three children aged two months to two years, 36 women, and six men, ANSA news agency said on Monday.

The survivors included 419 men, 138 women and 72 minors from Eritrea, Libya, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal, and Somalia, according to ANSA. Two suspected human smugglers were reportedly arrested by Italian police once they were brought to land.

Meanwhile on Monday, police cleared a makeshift camp near Italy's northern border with France for reasons of public hygiene and security. A local bishop said later in the day that he was in talks with local authorities to negotiate permission to set up a tent camp in the parking lot of a seminary.

Many charity groups are at work in Italy to help the EU naval mission EUNAVFOR MED and EU borders agency Frontex deal with tens of thousands of migrants who keep departing from the Libyan coasts.

From May 1 to 29, 18,788 migrants have landed in Italy, according to figures of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The number was lower compared to the 21,235 arrivals registered over the same period last year. Overall, 46,714 have arrived since the beginning of 2016, compared to 47,463 over the same period last year, UNHCR said.

Italian authorities have repeatedly called for more support from the EU to tackle the migrant crisis. Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said in a statement on Monday that despite the continuous arrivals, the numbers are "about the same" as last year and that there are no huge or unsanitary camps in Italy.

Renzi called for helping the migrants in their home countries, with cooperation and a different model of development aid.