Immigrants on a boat
Immigrants on a boat [file]. (photo credit:Wikimedia Commons)

Germany’s armed forces reported that it has saved 10,528 migrants at sea since its rescue operation launched in May, according to France’s AFP news agency on Sunday.

The report said that on Friday alone, the German Navy rescued 539 people from off the Libyan coast. The migrants were attempting to travel on three inflatable boats and one wooden boat.

Currently, two German ships are assisting the European Union’s Operation Sophia rescue mission.

In 2015, more than one million migrants arrived in Europe, many traveling by sea, according to the UN and the International Organization for Migration.

The IOM also said that close to 3,700 people either drowned or were lost at sea while trying to make the journey.

On Thursday, 18 people, including six children drowned on Thursday after a boat carrying migrants sank off Turkey’s western coastal town of Dikili, Dogan news agency reported.

The Turkish coast guard rescued another 21 migrants from the sea including a one-year-old baby and is still searching for two more people from the wooden boat, which capsized due to rough seas and overloading, the agency said.

The coast guard was not immediately available for comment.

At least half a million refugees fleeing Syria’s civil war have traveled this year through Turkey, then by sea to Greek islands, their first stop in the European Union (EU).

Despite the winter conditions and rough seas, the exodus has continued, albeit at a slower pace. Hundreds have died this year on this sea route.

Turkey struck a deal with the EU in November pledging to help stem the flow of migrants to Europe in return for 3 billion euros ($3.3 billion) of financial aid for the 2.2 million Syrian refugees it is hosting, as well as renewed talks on joining the 28-nation bloc.

As reported by The Jerusalem Post