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Thousands rescued from Mediterranean in dramatic Easter weekend

ROME, APRIL 17 – Dramatic Easter weekend in the Mediterranean: at least 8,500 people were rescued, while seven died including one pregnant woman and an eight-year old child. Rescuers worked incessantly for 3 days to bring to shore migrants from unseaworthy smugglers boats, U.N. refugee agency spokeswoman, Carlotta Sami, tweeted on Monday

Smugglers take advantage of calm seas to launch many boats. Those rescued were transferred to ships sailing to southern Italy. Most migrants hope for asylum, but those coming for strictly economic reasons likely won’t be granted it. More than 1,400 of those rescued were saved by European border and coast guard agency Frontex, which said it was involved in 13 search-and-rescue operations over Easter weekend. Private humanitarian organizations such as MOAS, Proactive Open Arms and Sea-Eye were also involved.

The Italian Coast Guard was in charge of coordinating 73 separate rescue operations, CNN reported. The youngest migrant rescued was just two weeks old. Asar was rescued along with her mother by the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), along with between 1,500 and 1,800 men, women, and children on seven rubber and two wooden vessels. Christopher Catrambone, the group’s founder, said: “Nobody has ever seen anything like what we are witnessing this weekend. It is a miracle that we have managed to rescue everyone”.

The Sea-Eye, a German charity boat that on Sunday helped bring to safety hundreds of people stranded on rubber dinghies off the coast of Libya said in a statement it still had 210 on board “crowded closely together, exposed to the wind, the waves and the cold without protection”. It said the Italian tanker La Donna and the coast guard ship CP920 was now accompanying the boat, whilst it waits for two smaller boats from the Italian island of Lampedusa, to bring the migrants to shore. (@OnuItalia)

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