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Italy steps up sea patrols as more migrants reach Mediterranean islands

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Italy steps up sea patrols as more migrants reach Mediterranean islands


Another migrant boat from North Africa reached the Italian island of Lampedusa on Monday, carrying more than 130 mostly Syrian refugees.

Over 200 others were taken to ports in Sicily after being rescued from the sea on Sunday.

It came as Italy announced plans to step up naval and air patrols in the southern Mediterranean to try to prevent further shipwrecks.

The prime minister said a huge military and humanitarian mission would begin immediately.

“Frontex (the European Union border agency) must be reinforced, we shall be talking about this at the European Council meeting on 24 and 25 October,” Enrico Letta told parliament. “But we cannot wait for the European institutions and parliament when we are talking about human lives. We have to act immediately.”

Letta called on the EU to do something about the increasingly unstable situation in Libya.

Following a cabinet meeting the Interior Minister Angelino Alfano announced action plans on three fronts: “to reinforce international cooperation to do everything so that migrants no longer leave their countries, better control borders which are above all European as well as Italian, (and) deploy national measures.”

Many of the dead from the recent disasters have been brought to Sicily where the mayors of several cities have offered space in their cemeteries.

The first burials have begun taking place this week.

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