Sicily on Monday welcomed nearly 900 migrants rescued in Mediterranean waters off the coast of Libya in the past few days, with many expressing relief at having escaped the “Libyan hell”.
More than 330 migrants rescued by Italian coast guard and other European vessels have already disembarked at Sicilian ports, Italian media reported.
Another hundred were en route to the western city of Trapani on Monday while 450, including a woman about to give birth, are due to arrive in Augusta by evening aboard the Aquarius, a boat operated by charity group SOS Mediterranee along with Doctors Without Borders.
Libya has long been a major transit hub for migrants trying to reach Europe.
More than 3,000 have died attempting to cross the Mediterranean in rickety boats, according to the International Organization for Migration. Others have fallen prey to serious abuse at the hands of traffickers and others.
Recent shocking footage by US news channel CNN appeared to show migrants being sold as slaves near Tripoli, sparking global outrage and promises from the African Union it would repatriate 20,000 distressed migrants in the next six weeks.