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Italy minister steps up pressure on EU over African migrants

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Italy minister steps up pressure on EU over African migrants


The Italian interior minister has repeated a claim that up to 600,000 potential migrants could try to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe from North Africa this summer.

Last weekend he made a similar statement at a meeting in Agrigento.

Tens of thousands, many fleeing conflict, are thought to have come last year and boatloads are regularly intercepted by coastguards.

Italy, which takes over the EU presidency in July, has repeatedly argued for other countries to share the burden.

“This is not just an Italian issue, we will fight in Europe to defend this border properly,” said the Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano.

Last autumn more than 350 migrants – mostly from Eritrea – died in a shipwreck off the Italian island of Lampedusa.

Earlier this week the Italian navy said they had saved more than 700 migrants in a 24 hour period.

The Italian Refugee Council says 10,000 have landed on Italian shores this year, over ten times more than during the same period in 2013.

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