Over 100,000 refugees and migrants cross Mediterranean to Europe

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© Kate Thomas/IRIN

More than 100,000 refugees and migrants, mostly from Sub-Saharan Africa have arrived in Europe this year after crossing the Mediterranean Sea, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

UNHCR says it is stepping up its presence in Greece and southern Italy in response to the dramatic increase in the number of refugees and migrants arriving via this route.

According to the agency, there is growing pressure on the Greek island of Lesvos.

Stephanie Coutrix reports.

The UN Refugee Agency says that around 600 refugees, mainly from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq arrive every day in the Greek islands, half of them coming ashore in Lesvos.

It says that arrivals on that island have grown from just over 730 in January to over 7,200 in May.

UNHCR spokesperson, Adrian Edwards says that as of Tuesday, the agency has received information that 103,000 refugees and migrants have arrived in Italy, Greece, Malta and Spain.

"Over the past weekend this number has included around about 6,000 people who were disembarked in southern Italy following a major rescue operation that was coordinated by the Italian Coast Guard and joined by navy ships deployed from Frontex and from Italy, Germany, Britain, Ireland, Spain and MOAS. The migrants and refugees rescued have been mostly sub-Saharan Africans and include children and pregnant women." (24")

Adrian Edwards said the refugees and migrants are now being taken care of at reception centres in Italy.

Stephanie Coutrix, United Nations

Duration: 1’09″

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