Three navy warships and two coast guard patrol boats took on the migrants in the Mediterranean and they were then transferred to other vessels and taken to ports in Sicily, the navy said in a statement.
In Geneva, the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR estimated 6,000 people had been rescued by the Italian navy from over 40 overcrowded boats in the past four days.
UNHCR spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said the migrants had set off from northern Libya “and many were fleeing violence, conflict and persecution.”
“Main countries of origin include Syria, Eritrea, Somalia, Nigeria, Gambia, Mali and Senegal,” she said.
Syrians made up the highest number landing in Italy in 2013 with over 11,300 arrivals reported…