Rome, April 17 (IANS) Italian ports on Monday received thousands of migrants who had been rescued during several coast guard operations in the Mediterranean.
UN Refugee Agency’s (UNHCR) spokeswoman Carlotta Sami told Efe news that 8,300 people were rescued in 60 rescue operations were conducted throughout the weekend by 35 ships, including some merchant vessels that offered support.
Sami said the weekend’s work had a frenetic pace, to the point where some humanitarian agents involved in the rescues worked for 40 hours straight.
Many of those rescued were young, and often unaccompanied children, as well as adult men who presented signs of having been tortured, including burns on their backs and welts from lashings and electrocutions.
According to Sami, seven deaths were registered, including a pregnant woman, but the toll could rise.
She said this was possibly due to the fact that many are held prisoners in Libya by human traffickers in order to extort their families.
The Italian coast guard told Efe news that some 1,200 people arrived in the Sicilian port of Messina, and that sea conditions were rough.
Local media reported that another 1,181 migrants were brought by a German boat to Catania, also in Sicily.
Italy continued to register record-setting amounts of migrant arrivals.
According to interior ministry data, between January 1 and April 12 some 26,989 migrants arrived in the country, a 23.8 per cent increase from 2016.