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More refugees now arriving in Italy than in Greece

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By Natalie Huet  with AP, Reuters
More refugees now arriving in Italy than in Greece

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 some 340 people, mainly Egyptians, Somalis and Sudanese – not Syrians as initially reported.

For the past year, migrants landing in Italy have mostly hailed from Sub-Saharan Africa, while refugees from 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.

And some officials fear that more desperate people might try to cross the Mediterranean to reach Italy.

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.