Hundreds of migrants arrive in Italy

Ship rescued 446 people from five boats over three days in December

Some of the 440 migrants disembark from ‘SeaWatch 3’ in Pozzallo, Sicily. EPA

Hundreds of migrants saved from boats sinking off the Libyan coast have walked ashore in southern Italy on Saturday.

The crew of German ship Sea-Watch 3 said they had rescued 446 people in five operations over three days from December 24.

Most started disembarking on Saturday after the boat reached the southern Italian port Pozzallo although some were taken off earlier for medical treatment. The migrants had coronavirus tests before leaving the boat.

The UN refugee agency has said more than 66,000 people arrived in Italy by sea from North Africa and the Middle East in 2021.

It estimates that more than 1,800 more died while trying to reach Europe, 160 of whom drowned in one week in December.

Oliver Kulikowski, a spokesman for rescue charity Sea-Watch International, said the number of people leaving Libya had increased during the winter months compared with previous years.

“It’s always super-dangerous, but we have seen an increase in winter – there’s really a pressure on people to leave Libya,” he said.

The rescues started on December 24 when 93 people, including unaccompanied children, were rescued from an overcrowded double-deck boat.

Updated: January 1st 2022, 6:03 PM