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European ships rescue 3,500 migrants in Mediterranean, send to Sicily

Crews from several European countries launched a new wave of rescue missions to save hundreds of migrants still stranded in the Mediterranean Sea on Sunday after as many as 10 boats called for help earlier this morning.

In a vast joint effort, navies from the United Kingdom, Sweden, Spain, and Italy rescued 3,500 migrants on Saturday, even as the European Union debates how to handle the influx of refugees once they come ashore. The rescued migrants will be taken to Sicily.

The United Nations estimates that as many as 90,000 refugees and migrants have been rescued or sailed to safety and crossed into Europe so far this year. Most of these migrants have landed in Italy, Greece, Spain and Malta.

Desperate to flee persecution and violence in Libya and Sub-Saharan Africa, many of the migrants paid smugglers to board wooden and rubber ships to Europe. The voyages have already claimed thousands of lives this year.

Additionally, The International Organisation for Migration estimates that 1,850 migrant lives have been lost at sea since the beginning of 2015.

Many European countries have become increasingly unwilling to give migrants food and shelter in their regions, as the asylum requests for thousands continue to be evaluated.

In Italy, right-wing politicians and local community officials have voiced strong opposition to the migrants, saying they would not accept any more “illegal immigrants,” because the reception facilities for the migrants had already reached maximum capacity.