UNHCR reports sharp rise in Syrians arriving by sea in Italy

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A customs boat enters a port in southern Italy after searching for boats carrying Syrian refugees hoping to reach Europe. [UNHCR/F.Noy]

The number of Syrians arriving by boat in southern Italy has increased, according to the UN refugee agency (UNHCR).

The agency estimates that 4,600 Syrians have arrived in the country by sea so far this year, two-thirds of them in August alone.

UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards told journalists in Geneva on Friday that the latest arrivals include 230 unaccompanied children.

"In all, we understand that more than 30 boat arrivals have been involved. The majority have come from Egypt, although some of these have started their journeys from Turkey. Most of the arrivals have been families with children. Several people have needed hospital treatment for dehydration, and there have been instances of people having to be airlifted directly from the boat in order to get help." (23")

UNHCR says the majority of the Syrians are from Damascus.

On arrival, they are taken to reception centres and the agency reports that many Syrians have moved on to other countries in the European Union.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 1’03″

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