Italy has issued a warning to the European Union after yet more migrants died trying to reach its shores.
It says it will let people granted asylum cross into neighbouring countries unless the EU takes charge of a sea operation to manage the flow of migrants crossing from North Africa.
At least 17 people died on Monday when their boat sank between Libya and the Italian island of Lampedusa. More than 200 were rescued. Some reports suggest hundreds more may have been on board.
“Europe is not helping us recover the dead people, so Europe should take charge of the living,” Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano told reporters. “Those who have a right to asylum, those whose right is recognised by Italy, will be sent to Europe if they want – because they do want to go to Europe – and Italy cannot become a prison for political refugees.”
Immigration is a hot political topic ahead of the European elections.
Italian politicians have called for a change to rules which oblige asylum seekers to remain in the country in
which they first arrive.