A thousand migrants and refugees rescued at sea were set to land on Friday (May 13) at various ports across southern Italy, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
An Italian coast guard ship arrived in Sicily carrying 340 people, half of whom were said to have fled Syria and Iraq.
For the past year, migrants and refugees arriving to Italy were mostly from Sub-Saharan Africa, while those fleeing war in the Middle East tended to reach Europe via Turkey and Greece.
But the number of migrants passing through the Balkans has dropped since March, when Turkey agreed with the EU to take back those who land on the Greek islands.
Italy now fears it will have to cope with more and more migrants desperate to reach its shores.
The UNHCR says more migrants looking to reach Europe arrived in Italy in April than in Greece – 9,149 against 3,650 – for the first time since May 2015.
Among those rescued in various operations on Thursday was a woman who was nine months pregnant. The Italian Coast Guard evacuated her by helicopter and rushed her to a Sicilian hospital.
By Natalie Huet, original article