Naval vessels from across Europe have joined together to save around 3,500 migrants in trouble off the Libyan coast in the Mediterranean – one of the highest numbers rescued in a 24-hour period.
Italian, German and Irish ships as well as a private charity boat from the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) intervened to help several overcrowded vessels.
The British navy ship HMS Bulwark was also on its way to help amid reports that all European naval vessels were being sent to the area.
For the second successive weekend human traffickers have been taking advantage of good weather.
The migrants saved in Saturday’s mass European rescue effort were said to be mostly from Eritrea.
One boatload of Eritreans was escorted back to Tripoli after being intercepted by Libyan authorities.
“I was on my way to Italy. I want to go there. It’s our circumstances (back home in Eritrea). I would pay money over my whole life so that I can live a comfortable life, with a clear conscience. I am now 24-years old… I have never had a comfortable life,” said one of the migrants on board.
Eritrea is one of the world’s most secretive and allegedly repressive countries.
Libya has rounded up thousands of Europe-bound migrants, but chaos in the country has allowed traffickers to flourish.