Spain saves 73 migrants from 5 boats crossing from Africa

The Italian coastguard and other boats rescued some 3,000 migrants from unseaworthy boats off the Libyan coast on Saturday, as the good weather pushes the numbers up, a participating NGO said.

The Malta-based Migrant Offshore Aid Station has rescued between 1,500 and 1,800 in the Central Mediterranean in a major overnight operation.

At least 97 migrants went missing after their boat sank Thursday off the Libyan coast, a navy spokesman said.

According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), over 32,000 refugees have arrived in Europe so far this year.

Thousands of illegal migrants have been rescued from the sea near Libya during one of the busiest weekends of the year for rescue workers, according to reports of different agencies.

A total of 2,074 people brought to safety in a day of non-stop rescues of those stranded in the Mediterranean Sea. "I will never forget this day", tweeted Chris Catrambone, founder of Maltese NGO Moas. Italian prosecutors have suggested the non-government affiliated groups have links to traffickers, a claim the groups have strongly denied.

Friday had already seen some 2,000 people rescued while the body of one young man was found, presumed asphyxiated, aboard one vessel bursting with people. The rest of the migrants were sent to Calabria on the Italian mainland Sunday.

MSF said in a series of tweets that NGOs were being forced to fill gaps in service provision left by the European Union coastguard. "#Iuventa and @seaeyeorg are unable to move due to the high amount of people on board and nearby us in rubber boats!" The weekend is set to be the latest marker in the ongoing humanitarian crisis.

The voice that is often missing from the discussion is often that of the migrants themselves. When asked if the charity boats made a difference in their decision to make the risky crossing, they had no idea what was meant by the question. "We don't have a lot of choices".



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