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Nearly 300 migrants rescued off Libya: aid group

The Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms' ship (C, pictured August 2018) started patrolling the Mediterranean with two other boats run by migrant aid groups off the Libyan coast in late November 2018
The Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms' ship (C, pictured August 2018) started patrolling the Mediterranean with two other boats run by migrant aid groups off the Libyan coast in late November 2018 AFP/File
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Madrid (AFP)

A migrant group said Friday it had rescued nearly 300 migrants off the coast of Libya over the previous 24 hours.

"More than 300 people safe on board the #OpenArms," the Proactiva Open Arms organisation tweeted.

The organisation added that it had rescued people on board three vessels in difficulty in a single day.

The vessel started patrolling the Mediterranean with two other boats run by migrant aid groups off the Libyan coast in late November.

This area of the Mediterranean has been the most deadly for migrants attempting the crossing to Europe.

More than 1,300 migrants have perished trying to reach Italy or Malta since the beginning of the year, according to the International Organization for Migration.

Aid groups have been sending rescue vessels into these waters despite vocal opposition from Italy's far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini.

Accusing the groups of acting as a "taxi service" for migrants, he has denied them access to the country's ports. Malta too, has been increasingly unwilling to host rescue vessels.

Another aid group meanwhile, Sea-Eye from Germany, announced Friday that one of its vessels was setting off from the southern Spanish port of Algeciras.

The 18-strong crew includes former volunteers who were on board the Aquarius, a rescue boat run by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and SOS Mediterranee.

The two groups said they had to halt activities earlier this month because of obstruction by some European countries.

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