Daily sea migrant arrivals in southern Italy surge to more than 1,500

Italian authorities reported Tuesday the sea rescue of more than 1,500 migrants, about twice as many as had been intercepted on each of the previous two days.

There are concerns that following moves to close borders along the so-called Balkan route from Greece to Germany, Europe-bound migration flows would switch towards Italian shores.

In a statement, the Italian Coastguard said it coordinated 11 separate operations south of Sicily leading to the rescue of 1,569 migrants, with the help of Italian and Germany navy vessels.

On Sunday, the coastguard said it worked on the rescue of 730 people, while on Monday the number was 752.

Speaking before news of the latest operations, European Commission spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud said EU authorities were monitoring migration flows from Libya to Italy and found no indication of "a significant increase along this route yet."

Sea arrivals in Italy are still far below figures recorded in Greece.

According to the International Organization for Migration, since January 1 almost 150,000 people landed on Greek shores, 10 times more than on Italian soil. But in the March 14-21 week, inflows were roughly equal in both countries, standing at just under 5,000.

Last update: Tue, 29/03/2016 - 19:14

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