Over 50,000 migrants arrived in Italy this year

Italian PM Matteo Renzi calls for more solidarity within the EU on the issue of migration

The number of migrants to have arrived in Italy by boat this year passed 50,000 at the weekend as over 5,800 people were rescued in the Mediterranean.

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi called on more solidarity within Italy and the EU on the migration issue.

“We did not cause this problem but we will try to solve it, if we can, along with those who are currently resorting to demagogy rather than common sense,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a G7 summit of the world’s richest countries in Germany.

Italy has urged its neighbours to take in quotas of migrants, but countries like France and Britain oppose the move. The EU has recently agreed to increase its search and rescue efforts at sea.

A total of 3,480 people were rescued on Saturday from 15 separate boats that set off from Libya, and more rescues were ongoing on Sunday. The international effort involved the Italian authorities and naval ships from the UK, Ireland and Germany.

It has been one of the busiest weekends so far this year for rescues in the Mediterranean, the start of an uptick over the summer months as people-smugglers take advantage of calm seas.

As of Thursday the Italian interior ministry had registered 48,905 arrivals, meaning the total for 2015 is now above 50,000.

The Royal Navy’s HMS Bulwark was brought in on Sunday to save more than 1,000 migrants in seven separate operations, including at least 10 pregnant women.

Around 2,200 of the migrants were first picked up by rescuers from the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), an independent Maltese operation supported by the medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières.

More in World