“This seems to be a new route that is being organised by the traffickers. It’s a phenomenon that we don’t yet understand fully,” said Maria Paola Sorace, the head of an organisation called the Pathos Cooperative that looks after migrants once they land.
Many are minors traveling without their parents, mostly teenage boys. Some are as young as 12.
“We’re becoming a second Lampedusa,” Ms Sorace said, referring to the tiny Italian island where thousands of migrants have been known to arrive within the space of 24 hours.
Few migrants or refugees hang around for long in Calabria. The vast majority want to get moving, heading north to countries like France, Germany and the UK.
“They all leave. We’re not running a prison – we can’t keep them by force. Some leave within hours of arriving. The Egyptians want to go to France, other nationalities want to reach Germany. Some say they want to go to Britain but they know it’s hard. None of them want to stay in Italy,” said Ms Sorace.