3,700 Migrants Rescued Off Libya Coast

3,700 Migrants Rescued Off Libya Coast3,700 Migrants Rescued Off Libya Coast

Nearly 3,700 migrants have been rescued from boats near the coast of Libya on Saturday and Sunday and more rescue operations were expected during the day as people smugglers took advantage of calm seas, Italy’s coast guard said.

All of those rescued were being brought back to Italian shores, a spokesman for the coast guard said, and some reached Lampedusa, Italy’s southernmost island, during the night, Reuters reported.

The mild spring weather and the calm summer seas are expected to push total arrivals in Italy for 2015 to 200,000, an increase of 30,000 over last year, according to an Interior Ministry projection.

The nationalities of those rescued had not yet been determined, he said. Italy coordinated the rescue efforts mounted by a total of 13 vessels. Italy’s navy, coast guard and finance police were involved, as was a French ship acting on behalf of the European border control agency.

Growing lawlessness and anarchy in Libya is giving free hand to people smugglers who make an average of $90,000 from each boatload of migrants, according to an ongoing investigation by a southern Italian court.

Following a series of shipwrecks which killed more than 1,200 people in April, European leaders at an extraordinary summit on April 23 agreed to strengthen the EU presence at sea in a bid to halt the tidal wave of refugees trying to reach Europe.

They decided to triple funding for the Triton operation, run by the Frontex border agency, which was previously $3.4 million a month.