Hundreds of illegal African migrants have been intercepted off the Italian coast, sparking new debate about how to tackle the problem. Over the past three days some 1600 migrants have been taken to a detention centre on the island of Lampedusa. The issue has been a sore point between Italy and Libya, the country where many African migrants begin their dangerous journeys to Europe.
The Libyan leader Muammar Gadaffi agreed to do more to tackle the problem in a deal signed back in August. As part of the agreement, Rome said it would pay Tripoli billions of euros in compensation for its occupation of the country from 1911 to 1943. Any effective crackdown on the illegal migration, however, has so far failed to materialise. From January to September this year 24,000 migrants have been stopped trying to reach Italy, almost double the number in the same period in 2007.