Italian rescue workers on Tuesday picked up about 4,500 migrants from the Mediterranean, as calm seas prompted a surge in migrant departures from North Africa.
Among those rescued was a heavily pregnant woman from Cameroon who later gave birth to a daughter, Manuela, named after the mid-wife who assisted at her birth. Both mother and daughter are reported to be in good health.
“We had to rescue nine boats plus a small wooden boat but in the area there was an additional maybe 10 other boats. It was an incredibly complicated situation, several rescue vessels got involved in the end, but I have never seen anything like this in my time here in the central Mediterranean. Never,” said MSF Field Co-ordinator Sebastian Stein.
Italian coast guards said that they were co-ordinating 27 rescue operations in the Mediterranean on Sunday and had already saved 3,500 migrants.
An agreement between Turkey and the EU to stop migrant departures for the Greek islands has reduced boat arrivals by 98 percent during the first five months of the year from the same period of 2015, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said.
Arrivals in Italy continue at about the same pace as last year, and the deadly central Mediterranean route has already claimed 2,438 lives, IOM said.