Thousands of migrants and refugees arrived in southern Italy on Tuesday, after a dramatic Easter weekend in which over 8,300 people were rescued in the central Mediterranean Sea, Italian authorities and media said.
About 1,000 people of mainly Sub-Saharan origins reached Vibo Valentia port in the Calabria region on board an Italian navy ship on Tuesday morning.
Another 477 disembarked at the port of Palermo, Sicily from a Panamanian commercial vessel helping out with recent operations.
Norwegian rescue ship Siem Pilot also brought 816 survivors to Cagliari, Sardinia.
A further 400 people were expected to arrive at the port of Salerno between Tuesday and Wednesday, local authorities said.
Hundreds of others reached other cities on Sunday.
Overall, some 8,360 people were rescued while trying to reach Italy from the coasts of Libya between the past Friday and Sunday. Rescuers also found some 13 bodies, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and Italy’s Ansa news agency.
Rescue efforts involved Italy’s navy and coast guard, vessels from the European Union (EU) border control agency Frontex and rescue mission EUNAVFOR MED, plus several ships from humanitarian groups.
All of the survivors were found sailing on board 55 rubber dinghies, each carrying between 110 and 150 people, and three large wooden boats carrying 200, 250, and 500 people respectively, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said on Monday.
Good weather and calm seas were believed to have boosted the record number of departures over the Easter weekend, and the great majority of the rescue operations took place off Libya’s coasts, IOM added.
The UNHCR stated that some 35,655 people were brought to Italy between Jan. 1 and April 18, which represented the large majority of the total 41,713 arrivals registered across the whole Mediterranean.
In the same time frame, some 913 people were believed to have died or gone missing, according to IOM.
In the same period of 2016, 1,263 lives were lost.
Meanwhile, the latest arrivals seemed to add pressure to Italy, as not all municipalities will willingly comply with the migrant distribution plan handed down by the central government.
The country’s national reception network currently hosts over 175,460 migrants and asylum seekers, and the majority of them, about 137,855 people, are housed in temporary facilities, according to the latest available data by the interior ministry.