The Italian government fears that a fresh torrent of migrants from North Africa will cross the sea in the coming weeks, as over 15,000 have arrived in the past four days alone.
The government fears that the numbers may only rise in September as many note that the figures far exceed those from the same time last year, reports Die Presse.
Official figures released by the Italian government show that some 118,903 migrants had come to Italy so far this year, up 3,000 from the year before. An official in the Italian interior ministry said that they fear more migrants coming in the next few weeks as people smugglers will often pack as many migrants as they can toward the end of summer to beat the riskier autumn weather.
The figures indicate that the influx of the last week would account for ten per cent of the year’s total migrants.
While the scale of migration has lessened from last year since the Balkan route was closed, Italy is now bearing the brunt of the number of migrant arrivals in the ongoing migrant crisis.
The southern Italian coast has been inundated with migrants over the summer and even more so in the past four days. Areas like the island of Sicily are overcrowded, leading to tensions in the migrant camps and among Sicilian locals which some believe may soon reach boiling point.
The atmosphere in the Lampedusa migrant camp is especially volatile, where earlier this year migrants from Africa burned down an asylum home. The group of Tunisians who were responsible for the fire claimed that they did so because they did not want to be deported.
The European Union (EU) border agency Frontex has warned since the start of the year that North Africa would be the main focus of migrants heading into Europe. The agency estimates that the total for the year could end up being over 300,000, though others have estimated the numbers waiting to cross the sea could be as high as 800,000.
The uncontrolled migration, mostly from Libya, also presents severe security risks for Europe. The new prime minister of Libya, Fayez al-Sarraj, has warned that Islamic State are slowly taking over the people trafficking industry.
Mr. Sarraj claimed that without international cooperation on tackling Islamic State in his country, the terror group would be left with free reign over the migrant flows and would actively smuggle fighters into Europe.