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Coastguards rescue 5,000 migrants off Libya's shores in 48-hours

The number of migrants arriving in Italy has soared this year [Getty]

Date of publication: 20 May, 2017

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Thousands of migrants have been rescued from waters off the North African coast in 48-hours, according to Italian and Libyan coastguard.
Around 5,000 migrants bound for Italy were pulled out of waters at the Libyan coast between Thursday and Saturday morning by Italian and Libyan coastguards, statements from both countries said.

Some 2,900 people were rescued on Thursday - 2,300 of whom were found in international waters and taken to Italy, while 580 picked up in Libyan waters were returned to the North African country.

Through Friday until Saturday morning, coastguards rescued another 2,100 migrants packed in 17 vessels, but found the body of one man who drowned, the Italian coastguard said.

The number of migrants arriving in Italy has soared this year by more than 30 percent in comparison with the same period last year, with 46,000 people arriving so far.

According to international organisations, between 800,000 and one million people - mostly from sub-Saharan Africa - are currently in Libya hoping to make the perilous Mediterranean crossing to Europe.

Between 7,000 and 8,000 migrants are being held in Libyan detention centres after entering the country illegally.

The North African country has long been a stepping stone for migrants seeking a better life in Europe. Smugglers have stepped up their lucrative business in the chaos which has engulfed Libya since its 2011 revolution.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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