Italy has long said that it is unfairly carrying the burden of immigration to the European Union.
Some 25,000 people have arrived on Italian shores in Lampedusa since January.
The tiny island has long been a way into Europe for African migrants.
Rome wants more help from its EU partners and has issued what it calls ‘humanitarian residence permits’ to those new arrivals.
Data compiled by the UN refugee agency shows that France received the most asylum claims last year.
French officials dealt with 47,800 asylum applications in 2010, an increase of 13 percent.
The data shows 8,190 people sought asylum in Italy during the same period, a fall of 53 percent.