Dramatic photos show refugees fleeing Libya being rescued at sea

Around 6,500 migrants were saved in the course of approximately 30 hours from Sunday

About 6500 refugees and migrants have been rescued off Libya, the Italian coastguard says, in one of the biggest operations of its kind to date.

Dramatic video footage shows the migrants and refugees jumping into the sea and swimming to the nearby rescue boats.

"For the other people in distress, MSF distributed all of its stock of 700 life jackets and used our RHIB (Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat) in order to transfer as many people as possible to other search and rescue vessels in the area".

Groups such as Proactiva Open Arms and Doctors Without Borders helped take on some 3,000 people who had been travelling in some 20 small wooden boats.

The operation came just weeks after a rescue vessel was boarded by armed men who shot at aid workers off the coast of Libya.

Yet it was the deadly route between Libya and Italy that was preferred by migrants which led to the world waking up to the biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War as increasing numbers of people boarded lethal boats and the European Union scaled back search and rescue operations, suspending them in 2015.

The Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), which conducts rescue operations in the Mediterranean, has called on the worldwide community to consider safe and legal routes to end the number of deaths at sea.

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Migrants from Eritrea hold their children after been rescued from a crowded wooden boat fleeing Libya.

But more than 460 migrants and refugees arrived on Greek islands on Tuesday alone - the highest figure in several weeks.

This route remains nearly as lethal today as it was two years ago with record numbers of migrants embarking on the journey between Libya and Italy. The two Eritrean babies are being treated at a hospital in Palermo after being rescued at sea along with thousands of other migrants.

Human traffickers have taken advantage of the chaos gripping Libya since the 2011 to boost their lucrative business.

An EU naval mission in the Mediterranean has been authorized to start enforcing a United Nations arms embargo created to choke off weapon supplies to extremists in Libya.

Doyle said he believed the reason there was such a sharp spike in the number of migrants setting off by boat from Libya was due to a break in recent poor weather that probably led to delays in their planned departures.