70 migrants rescued off coast of Italy

Seventy Afghan and Iraqi migrants were rescued from a packed boat off the southeastern coast of Italy and brought to shore yesterday.

Two coastguard cutters brought the group to the port of Santa Maria di Leuca in Puglia. There were two women and four minors onboard.

Refugees from Africa and the Middle East have poured into Italy this year, but it is a highly dangerous journey.

On Saturday five Tunisians died after their boat capsized while attempting the crossing. Last month around 800 people drowned in the worst such disaster in recent history.

The UN refugee agency said about 35,500 migrants arrived in Italy by sea between the start of the year and the first week in May.

Arrivals in Greece, Spain, and Malta bring the total number of migrants known to have crossed the Mediterranean in that period to 62,500. The number of dead or missing so far this year is about 1,800 versus 3,500 during all of last year.

Meanwhile, Malaysian police have discovered mass graves in more than a dozen abandoned camps used by human traffickers on the border with Thailand, where Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar have been held.

“These graves are believed to be a part of human trafficking activities involving migrants,” said home minister Zahid Hamidi.


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