Over 100 000 migrants to Italy this year

Milan - The UN refugee agency says over 100 000 migrants - more than half of them refugees from war or persecution - have reached Italy by sea this year.

The UNHCR renewed its appeal on Thursday for European countries to provide alternatives to the perilous sea crossings, often aboard unseaworthy fishing boats, by smugglers across the Mediterranean Sea. It estimated that 1 500 migrants have died or gone missing crossing the Mediterranean this year, 1 300 since June.

More than 1 900 migrants arrived in Italy on Thursday, bringing the year-to-date total to 100 475 and far outstripping last year's 42 000 arrivals. The UNHCR says 29% of this year's arrivals are Eritreans and 18% are Syrians, both considered refugees.

UNHCR spokesperson Barbara Molinari said people fleeing war should "be given other ways to Europe".