A charity ship is en route to Sicily with 236 people while the coast guard and border police have brought 532 to Lampedusa.
A charity ship sailed to Italy’s Sicilian port with 236 people rescued in the Mediterranean from smuggler boats, while Italian coast guards and border police took 532 more to a small island.
Maritime rescue group SOS Mediterranee said on Saturday that a ship it operates, Ocean Viking, brought the migrants to safety four days ago from two rubber dinghies.
On instructions from Italian authorities, the Ocean Viking was sailing to Augusta, Sicily, with her passengers, who she said included 119 unaccompanied minors.
SOS Mediterranee said some passengers told rescuers they were beaten by Libya-based smugglers and forced into the non-navigable canoes despite heavy waves.
On the southern island of Lampedusa, closer to North Africa than to mainland Italy, Mayor Salvatore Martello said migrants from four boats in need of rescue disembarked overnight. They were brought to safety by the Italian coast guard and the customs police boats.
Meanwhile, an Italian navy ship rescued 49 migrants, Italian national television reported.
Also in the central Mediterranean Sea on Saturday was another charity boat, Sea-Watch 4, which with 308 people on board who had been rescued in four separate operations from ships launched by traffickers, Sea- Watch in a press release.
The first rescue, of 44 people, took place on Thursday, he said.
Sea-Watch 4 has asked a port to disembark migrants from Italy and Malta.
“The fact that we, as a civilian rescue vessel, have saved so many people from distress at sea in such a short period of time once again demonstrates the fundamental rescue gap that European states have created at the maritime border. most dangerous in the world, ”said Hannah Wallace Bowman, Sea-Watch 4 mission chief.
Warmer weather in the spring often increases the number of ships launched to Europe by migrant smugglers based in Libya.
Last month, SOS Mediterranee staff and a merchant vessel spotted several bodies from a wrecked dinghy, which is believed to have carried 130 migrants.
People on the boat had called for help in the waters off Libya, but no coastguard ships from Libya, Italy or Malta came to their aid, the group said. No survivors were found.
Humanitarian groups have urged European Union countries to resume the deployment of military ships on rescue patrols in the Mediterranean.
After hundreds of thousands of rescued migrants, many of whom were not eligible for asylum, were brought to Italy by ships of the coast guard, navy, border police and other countries, large-scale rescue operations in the sea north of Libya have ended.
Italy has equipped and trained the Libyan Coast Guard to rescue migrants in their search and rescue area and to deter traffickers.
Human rights groups and United Nations agencies have denounced inhuman treatment in Libyan detention centers, where migrants rescued or intercepted by the Libyan coast guard are taken.
They say migrants suffer beatings, rapes and insufficient rations.