ROME (Sputnik) — In total, during 11 search and rescue operations carried out over the day, under the coordination of the Roman Coast Guard Operations Center, 534 migrants were rescued.
They were trying to reach the shores of Italy in two large inflatable boats and nine smaller boats. Italian and German Navy ships, as well as the vessels of a number of international non-governmental organizations participated in the operation.
Europe has been beset by a massive refugee crisis, with hundreds of thousands of undocumented migrants fleeing their crisis-torn countries in the Middle East and North Africa to escape violence and poverty. The majority of them cross the Mediterranean Sea and arrive in the European Union using southern EU nations as transit points.
According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) recent data, over 260,000 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2016.