The U.N. refugee agency says over 2,000 people have arrived in Italy from Libya by boat since Saturday and more are believed to be en route.
A spokeswoman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees says "there unconfirmed reports of a number of boats in distress on the Mediterranean carrying people fleeing from Libya."
Melissa Fleming said Tuesday those heading to Italy are largely Eritreans and Somalis rather than Libyans.
She says many have been stuck in Libya for weeks because of the conflict there.
Fleming told reporters in Geneva on Tuesday that UNHCR is discussing with Italian authorities how to deal with the arrivals.
She says many have landed on the small islands of Linosa and Lampedusa, which are increasingly overwhelmed by the influx of refugees.