Italy picks up 4,000 migrants at sea in 4 days

By Nicole Winfield, March 20, 2014

ROME — Italian authorities say they have rescued more than 4,000 would-be migrants at sea over the past four days as the war in Syria and instability in Libya spawn new waves of refugees.

The numbers of migrants reaching Italian shores generally rises this time of year as warm weather and calm seas make the Mediterranean crossing from North Africa easier. But the U.N. refugee agency said the numbers so far this year represent a 300 percent increase over the same period in 2013. Nearly 43,000 migrants arrived by sea in Italy in all of 2013.

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