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Moving on Up: Italy to Route Northern African Migrants to Europe

© REUTERS / Antonio ParrinelloMigrants stand in line after disembarking from the Norwegian vessel Siem Pilot at Pozzallo's harbour, Italy, March 29, 2016.
Migrants stand in line after disembarking from the Norwegian vessel Siem Pilot at Pozzallo's harbour, Italy, March 29, 2016. - Sputnik International
Northern African Migrants have opted to cross the Central Mediterranean to Italy in efforts to reach Europe this week, according to International Organization for Migration (IOM) reports.

UNITED NATIONS (Sputnik) – Most of the migrants and refugees who arrived in Europe this week landed in Italy, having opted to take the Central Mediterranean route from North Africa, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) reports.

"IOM staff have met many of the migrants and established that the departure point for all of them was Libya. Many of them were from sub-Saharan Africa, and we have noticed an increase in numbers from the Horn of Africa, particularly Eritreans," Federico Soda, Director of IOM’s Coordination Office for the Mediterranean in Rome, said in a Friday statement.

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According to IOM, over 177,000 migrants have arrived in Europe by sea since the start of this year.

"IOM reports that an estimated 177,207 migrants and refugees have entered Europe by sea in 2016, arriving in Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Spain, through April 13. Some 5,664 have arrived in the past three days since IOM last reported arrival figures on Tuesday, with another 357 arriving in Messina, Italy, earlier today (15 April)," IOM spokesperson Joel Millman said in a Friday statement.

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According to Millman, the 357 migrants were reportedly rescued at sea from voyages leaving Egypt.

Over 24,000 migrants have been rescued in the Channel of Sicily in 2016, while an estimated 352 are missing, according to IOM.

Europe has been beset by a massive refugee crisis, with hundreds of thousands of undocumented migrants fleeing their home countries in the Middle East and North Africa to escape violence and poverty.

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