December 26, 2017 / 11:42 AM / 2 years ago

Italy rescues more than 250 migrants in Mediterranean

Migrants, part of a group intercepted aboard a dinghy off the coast in the Mediterranean Sea, look on as they stand on a rescue boat upon arrival on Christmas day at the port of Malaga, Spain December 25, 2017. REUTERS/Jon Nazca

ROME (Reuters) - More than 250 migrants were rescued in the central Mediterranean during the night between Monday and Tuesday, Italy’s Coast Guard said.

A statement said the migrants, in one large rubber dinghy and two small boats, were rescued in three missions by two ships, one from a non-governmental organisation.

Migrant arrivals to Italy have fallen by two-thirds year on year since July after officials working for the U.N.-backed government in Tripoli put pressure on people smugglers in the Libyan city of Sabratha to stop boats leaving.

Italy is also bolstering the Libyan coast guard’s ability to turn back boats.

Last week, the United Nations began bringing African refugees to Italy from Libya, evacuating them from detention centres whose conditions have been condemned by rights groups as inhumane. [L8N1OL340]

Reporting By Philip Pullella; editing by John Stonestreet

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