Rise in migrants crossing Mediterranean

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Over the past four days some 6 000 people sea have been rescued at sea by the Italian Navy according to the UN Refugee Agency. Since the beginning of the year around 18,000 people have arrived on Italy's southern shores – a tenfold rise over the same period last year.

Claire Doole reports from Geneva.

Many of the 6000 people picked up at sea by the Italian navy were women and children, who had set off from Libya where refugees from Syria and across Africa gather to be smuggled across the Mediterranean.

Over the past three months 18,000 people have arrived on the shores of Italy – a tenfold increase over the same period last year. The UNHCR says the spike in arrivals is due to the deteriorating crisis in Syria and continued instability in Libya.

Many are fleeing violence, conflict and persecution and UHNCR spokeswoman Melissa Fleming says she expects the numbers to rise.

"We are seeing many waiting in Libya to leave. They are being transported by smugglers and pay up to 5000 dollars a trip"

Italy has strengthened its air and sea surveillance of smuggling routes after a boat capsized in October off the Italian island of Lampedusa, killing more than 360 people

Claire Doole, United Nations, Geneva.

Duration: 1’14″

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