ROME (Reuters) - Rescuers plucked around 900 migrants from boats in the Mediterranean on Friday while hundreds more were brought to Sicily, as Italian figures showed far more people are braving the crossing from North Africa this year than last.
A Norwegian ship working for European Union border agency Frontex and a vessel from aid group SOS Mediterranee rescued migrants packed into four large rubber boats and six smaller vessels on Friday, Italy's coastguard said in a statement.
Meanwhile more than 800 people from African countries including Eritrea and Somalia, who were rescued on Thursday, were brought to the port of Augusta in southeastern Sicily.
"These people had a very difficult journey," Save the Children spokeswoman Giovanna Di Benedetto said at the port.
"Many of the minors are unaccompanied, including small children. Some of them are very small indeed."
Since the beginning of the year, 14,319 migrants have been brought to Italy, according to the Interior Ministry. That compares with 9,101 in the same period of 2016, a year in which a record 181,000 arrivals were recorded.
Reporting by Isla Binnie; editing by John Stonestreet