Over 1,500 migrants arrive in Italy, trafficker held

Ragusa, (IANS/AKI) Italian police arrested a suspected Senegalese human trafficker who skippered a rubber dingy, carrying 111 passengers across the Strait of Sicily on Thursday, as more than 1,500 asylum-seekers arrived in Italy.

Mamdouo Lo is the 67th alleged human trafficker to be arrested by Italian police this year.

Lo was arrested when he and his passengers arrived in the Sicilian port of Pozzallo.

A total of 654 people from Syria, Nigeria, Sudan and Egypt arrived in the Sicilian capital Palermo’s port on Thursday, including 90 women and 89 minors. They were rescued in several operations off the Libyan coast.

The unprecedented surge in Mediterranean migrant boat crossings is likely to increase over the coming months amid warmer weather and calmer seas, the UN refugee agency UNHCR warned this week.

A total of 137,000 refugees and migrants have arrived in Europe by sea so far this year, and nearly 2,000 people have drowned, the UNHCR said on Wednesday.

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