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Over 300 migrants rescued off the Strait of Sicily

Over 300 migrants rescued off the Strait of Sicily


Italian coastguards have rescued a migrant boat with 314 passengers on board including 107 minors and 51 women off the strait of Sicily.

The boat, said to have sailed off from Egypt, had migrants from Egypt, Libya, Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan, Comoros Islands and Syria as well as the Palestinian territories.

It sent a distress signal to the Italian coastguard on Wednesday afternoon when it was caught up in bad weather.

Two Italian coastguard vessels and a Spanish patrol ship from the European Union borders agency Frontex took part in the rescue operation.

A total of 18,784 refugees and migrants reached Italy from North Africa in the first three months of the year – a more than 80 percent increase from the same period of 2015, according to the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR.

The UNHCR said a number of people reaching Italy from North Africa increased by 400 percent in March compared with the same month last year and they were mainly from West Africa.

Last year, an estimated one million migrants arrived in Europe, including 154,000 people mainly from West Africa who arrived via the central Mediterranean route, according to Frontex.