The Italian navy said on Sunday that its vessels patrolling the Mediterranean rescued some 4,700 seafaring migrant refugees soon after they left the Libyan coast.
Norwegian, Irish and British rescue ships coordinated with the Italian Coast Guard to rescue the refugees who were packed into 44 vessels of various sizes.
This was one of the largest rescue operations in a 24-hour period.
Rome says the number of migrant refugees to reach Italy has soared to more than 110,000 in the first eight months of the year.
Meanwhile, Tunisian authorities said their coast guard managed to rescue 124 African refugees after their boat capsized as they were trying to reach the Italian port of Lampedusa.
Tunisian vessels rescued more than 300 African and Arab refugees after their boat sank last month.
The rescue operations in the Mediterranean come as transit countries such as Macedonia and Serbia say they are overwhelmed with tens of thousands of refugees crossing their territories as they try and reach European Union nations, such as Hungary.
On Sunday, at least 5,000 refugees – mostly those with children and infants – were allowed through makeshift border barricades between Greece and Macedonia.
The Macedonian military and security forces had on Thursday and Friday declared a state of emergency in a vain attempt to stem the refugee tide. By Sunday, it appears they had given up and allowed the most desperate to first cross into Macedonia.
Video footage showed long queues at border crossing points as refugees waited to have their papers processed for entry. Macedonian border guards allowed families with children crossing priority.
The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies