Interior ministry says nearly 100,000 migrants to date

Marcone says most flee to Italy 'from despair' at home

13 August, 12:37

    (ANSAmed) - ROME, AUGUST 13 - Nearly 100,000 migrants have landed on Italian shores so far this year, a senior government official said Wednesday.

    Mario Morcone, head of the department of civil liberties and immigration for the interior ministry, spoke after 17 Syrian migrants landed on the coast of Sardinia, a day after nine others arrived on the Italian island.

    He said the total arrivals are already up to about 98,000 migrants.

    "These are people, not in Italy for tourism but from despair," he said in a radio interview.

    "Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, many of them continue to lose their lives in the crossings," Morcone added. Officials have estimated that as many as 65,000 migrants have been rescued in Italian waters this year through the county's Mare Nostrum program which was established last fall to try to save migrants who flee to Europe from North Africa on rickety vessels that are often not safe.

    Many are victims of human smugglers and on Tuesday, police arrested two men they say were responsible for the craft carrying the 1,700 migrants which included hundreds of children.

    Most are fleeing conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa and are so desperate to find safety in Europe that they make the risky crossing. (ANSAmed).

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