Italy has rescued 3,600 migrants from rickety boats sailing from Africa to Europe in the past two days, officials said. Hundreds were taken to the Sicilian port of Catania.
The Interior Ministry expects human cargo to the southern European nation to increase by 30,000 to 200,000 this year, Reuters reports.
Many migrants embark from Libya, where a prevailing lawlessness creates conditions favorable to those seeking to profit from the demand for illegal passages to Europe.
This week, the European Union declared it would absorb an additional 20,000 refugees and more evenly disperse asylum seekers across member states.
The death toll from migrant boat journeys is expected to move beyond 2,000 in 2015. In early May, approximately 6,800 people were brought ashore to safety by European rescue missions.