More than 3,500 migrants and refugees have been rescued off the coast of Libya since Thursday, according to the Italian coastguard that rescued over 1,500 people alone on Friday.
On Friday hundreds of migrants attempting to make the perilous Mediterrean passage to Europe were plucked from 10 dinghies and a fishing boat, by the coastguard and navy after a break in the bad weather saw a fresh wave of crossings.
The day before nearly 2,000 migrants were rescued across 11 other operations managed by Doctors Without Boarders boat, along with two vessels taking part in the EU’s Operations Sophia, which patrols the sea for people smugglers.
It followed a brief lull in arrivals due to stormy seas. In the days before only 400 people were picked up over the last 10 days, a significantly lower number than the peak summer season, when an average of 760 people were rescued a day.
The International Organization for Migration estimated in late November that nearly 860,000 migrants had landed in Europe so far this year, with more than 3,500 dying while crossing the Mediterranean in search of safety.
The number of migrants crossing the Mediterrean to Europe fell by more than a third last month, due to bad weather and a Turkish crackdown on the other popular route: across the Aegean to Greece.
MSF said Thursday it had launched a joint operation with environmental group Greenpeace to rescue people risking their lives on the crossing between Turkey and Greece.