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World

Italian Coast Guard Rescues More Than 6,000 Migrants In Mediterranean

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

In the past two days, nearly 10,000 migrants have been rescued from boats in the rough waters of the Mediterranean Sea. From Rome, Christopher Livesay reports on the biggest operation in which the Italian navy, European agencies and international NGOs saved almost 7,000 people off the coast of Libya.

(CROSSTALK)

CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY, BYLINE: Video footage from the Italian coast guard shows migrants onboard a rickety and crowded ship. Once it's close enough to the rescue vessel, migrants begin handing small children to sailors in life jackets.

It's just one of 40 coordinated missions that took place off the coast of Libya. Political turmoil in the North African country has made it a primary hub for people trafficking. These in the most recent rescue came primarily from Eritrea and Somalia according to the Italian coast guard. They are now being dispersed to migrant centers across Italy.

More than a million migrants came to Europe last year. In an attempt to stem the flow, the European Union made a deal with Turkey to keep migrants from crossing to Greece, but that hasn't stopped migrants leaving from Africa. The United Nations says more than 2,500 migrants have died trying to cross the Mediterranean so far this year. For NPR News, I'm Christopher Livesay in Rome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.