4,400 migrants rescued in a day from waters off Libyan coast

Story highlights

  • Ships from the Italian navy, coast guard and the EU border agency, Frontex, took part in the rescue
  • The migrants were pulled from 22 vessels, including unstable rubber dinghies

(CNN)Some 4,400 migrants were rescued off the coast of Libya in the space of 24 hours, the Italian coast guard said, in a massive international rescue operation involving several ships.

The migrants were pulled from 22 vessels, including rubber dinghies, off the North African country's coast on Saturday.
    Several Italian coast guard and navy ships were among those involved in the Mediterranean rescue operation, the Italian coast guard said, as well as vessels from the EU border agency, Frontex.
    Humanitarian group Medecins Sans Frontieres, also known as Doctors Without Borders, said its own vessel, the Argos, had rescued 95 people from a very unstable rubber dinghy and taken on board another 206 rescued by the Italian navy. The ship is now carrying the migrants to Italy, it said.
    Lindis Hurum, emergency coordinator on the Argos, said via Twitter that those rescued included many young people.
    "I have never seen so many young people onboard the ship, and especially not so many children travelling alone," she tweeted.
    The flow of desperate people seeking to reach European soil by crossing the Mediterranean in often overcrowded and unseaworthy vessels shows no sign of slowing, despite the risks.
    Many are fleeing conflict in Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere, while others are escaping poverty or repression in Africa.
    The U.N. refugee agency, the UNHCR, said that as of mid-August some 264,500 refugees and migrants had crossed the Mediterranean this year.
    They include more than 158,000 who have arrived in Greece -- many landing on small islands ill-equipped to deal with the influx -- along with about 104,000 who've gone to Italy, around 1,950 to Spain and almost 100 to Malta.
    Other migrants and refugees try to reach Europe by land.
    In recent days, thousands have found themselves stuck in miserable conditions on the border between northern Greece and Macedonia, as Macedonian authorities seek to limit the flow.