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Three thousand migrants rescued in the Mediterranean - coast guard

Three thousand migrants rescued in the Mediterranean - coast guard

The migrants were stranded at sea for hours, as the engine of the boat was also looted, Qassem said.

Around 3,000 migrants were rescued in the Mediterranean on Saturday, May 6, as they tried to reach Europe, Italy's coast guard said in a statement.

The Augusta, a vessel from the Coast Guard, is bringing in 985 people and should dock some time on Sunday in Augusta, while the Fiorillo is transporting 408 to Ragusa and the Vos Hestia, of the Save the Children NGO, is bringing 528 migrants to Vibo Valentia. More than 1,000 have died or are missing.

Italy's Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano, on Saturday held talks with top Libyan officials including the leader of the UN-backed Government of National Unity, Fayez al-Sarraj.

Refugees and migrants who pass through conflict-ridden Libya endure harsh conditions.

Along the way, they are prey to an array of armed groups and people-smuggling networks that often try to extort money in exchange for allowing them to continue.

Each year, thousands of people, mostly from sub-Saharan countries, board boats operated by traffickers in the country's west heading for the Italian island of Lampedusa, some 300 kilometres (190 miles) away.

Some of those who can not pay their captors are reportedly killed or left to starve to death, the IOM said.

Few migrants taken ashore in Sicily and Apulia said the trip to Libya was organised by an "agency" that gave them a working visa for between $3,000 (£2,300) and $4,000 (£3,100).

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