Italy is to step up its naval and air patrols in the Mediterranean after a week in which hundreds of migrants from Africa and the Middle East drowned trying to reach Europe.
The government said it wanted to prevent more shipwrecks from happening. Prime Minister Enrico Letta announced they would triple their presence in the area:
“For the past few days after the shipwrecks in Lampedusa, we have been starting to develop an operation. It will be an Italian military and humanitarian task force. A joint Navy and Air Force operation. This operation is needed in order to guarantee that the Mediterranean sea can become a safer sea.”
In Lampedusa, the coffins of 150 Somalis and Eritreans who died when their boat capsized, were being taken to Sicily. The dead will be given a state funeral
Tens of thousands of migrants have tried made the crossing from north Africa in overcrowded, flimsy boats already this year..
Italy and Malta have asked for more funds from the EU to deal with the amount of migrants reaching their shores, and for the issue to be put on the agenda for the next European Council meeting on Oct 24/25.