ROME May 24 An Italian navy patrol ship picked
up a migrant boat coming from North Africa carrying 435 people
including 264 children, most from Syria and Egypt, authorities
said on Saturday.
The rescue, which occurred on Friday afternoon, is the
latest in a seemingly endless succession as the chronic migrant
crisis in the southern Mediterranean has picked up this year.
At least 34,800 people have crossed from North Africa to
Europe so far this year, compared to 43,000 in the whole of
2013. That leaves the annual total set to surpass the 60,000 who
made the trip in 2011 when the Arab Spring revolutions loosened
border controls, according to the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR.
The near daily arrivals of migrant boats has become an issue
in the European parliamentary elections due to be wrapped up on
Sunday with growing demands in Italy for more help from the
European Union to confront the emergency.
(Reporting by James Mackenzie, editing by David Evans)