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ROUTE CAUSE

As Europe closes down Greece as a transit point for refugees, an old and dangerous crossing is once again becoming popular

WHEN GREECE began its deportations of refugees to Turkey on April 4 under a deal between the EU and Ankara, Europe’s semi-panicked leaders began to think the worst of the migration crisis was over. But another problem was quietly re-emerging: In the first three months of 2016, 18,795 refugees attempted to make the journey across the Mediterranean from Libya to Italy, an 85 percent increase from the same period the year before, according to the U.N.’s refugee agency.

“It’s quite difficult at the moment to analyze why this is happening,” says Federico Fossi, a spokesman in the agency’s office in Italy. He suggests that unusually mild weather in Libya might have encouraged smugglers to send boats out. Others have posited that with the EU focused on migration to Greece, refugees decided that now is a good time to try to reach Italy.

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