Germany needs to take action now to prevent a re-run of 2015, when some 890,000 migrants arrived in the country, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Social Democrat challenger for a September election told Reuters on Sunday.

In September 2015, Merkel threw open Germany’s borders to thousands of migrants to avoid a humanitarian disaster – a move that later hit her popularity and boosted the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD), though her conservatives have since recovered and support for the AfD has dropped.

Martin Schulz, whose Social Democrats (SPD) are lagging far behind Merkel in the polls ahead of a Sept. 24 election, warned against a repeat scenario after more than 93,000 mainly sub-Saharan African and Bangladeshi migrants have arrived by boat in southern Italy so far in 2017, up 17 percent on the same period last year.

“The numbers in Italy are worrying – thousands per day,” he said in an interview in the western German city of Aachen.

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