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Thousands of migrants rescued over the weekend arrive in Sicily

Sunday, June 01, 2014 - 01:42

June 1 - The last boatload of 1,325 migrants arrives in Sicily, after a weekend in which authorities worked non-stop to rescue more than 3,500 migrants pouring into Italian waters amid calm summer seas. Vanessa Johnston reports.

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Migrants rescued at sea by the Italian navy and coastguards arrive in the Sicilian port of Augusta Sunday. They're relieved to be safe. Officials said more than 3,500 were rescued off the coast of Sicily this weekend. Humanitarian staff were on hand to help the migrants, mostly from North Africa and Syria, enter temporary reception centers. In downtown Augusta, residents said they felt overwhelmed by the constant arrival of migrant boats. (SOUNDBITE) (Italian) AUGUSTA RESIDENT SILVANA SAYING: "Because now the influx of migrants is really excessive and in my opinion we can't keep them. Not because we are bad but because we can't give them proper help. Augusta doesn't have the resources for this enormous influx." (SOUNDBITE) (Italian) AUGUSTA RESIDENT GIOVANNI SAYING: "I hope that Europe will intervene in a decisive manner to help us resolve the problems that obviously this huge influx of migrants is bringing us." Another resident said he was proud of Italy's so-called "Mare Nostrum" operation, which saves migrants' lives. (SOUNDBITE) (Italian) AUGUSTA RESIDENT GIORGIO SAYING: "It is necessary that the Mare Nostrum Operation is expanded so that it transforms from humanitarian indifference to cooperation, to humanitarian interference. We need to go to those countries and create conditions for people to continue to live there in peace." The Italian Coastguard said some 43,000 people have crossed from North Africa to Italy so far this year. That's the same number as during all of 2013.

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Thousands of migrants rescued over the weekend arrive in Sicily

Sunday, June 01, 2014 - 01:42