ROME— Over 15,000 migrants and refugees arrived to Italy since the beginning of 2017, marking a new record high in the migration inflows from Africa, Italian authorities said on Monday.
More specifically, some 15,844 people were rescued in the Mediterranean Sea and brought to the country between Jan. 1 and March 6, according to the Interior Ministry’s Immigration Department.
The figure marked a 74 percent increase and a 73.79 percent increase compared to the same period in 2016 and 2015, respectively.
Just considering the latest days, some 2,315 migrants and refugees arrived in ports in southern Italy on Saturday and Sunday, after being rescued in various maritime operations coordinated by the national coast guard.
Another peak had been registered between Feb. 24 and 26, data showed.
The number of unaccompanied minor migrants also remained very high: some 1,670 lone children were registered among the new arrivals up to Feb. 27.
Some 25,846 minors reached Italy without any parent or relative in 2016 overall, more than double against 12,360 registered in the previous year.
Italy’s whole reception system currently hosts 174, 606 migrants and refugees, the ministry said.
Those accepted so far in the relocation scheme of the European Union (EU)—which means the chance to be transferred legally and under humanitarian protection in another EU country — are 3,703.
Italy has seen a consistent upward trend in migration inflows in recent years, from some 66,000 arrivals registered in 2014 to 103,700 in 2015 and over 176,500 in 2016.