Italy's government has announced Monday it will provide 10 motor launches and two ships, as well as an unspecified amount of equipment and other material, to the Libyan Coast Guard service, in order to increase its capacity to intercept and bring back illegal migrants from the Mediterranean Sea.
The new government in Rome wants the illegal immigrants who seek to cross the Mediterranean and reach Europe mainland, to be taken back to North Africa, rather than let them enter the country, according to a report by Deutsche Welle. The position of the Italian government is that Libya is not nearly as dangerous for the migrants as it once was.
Last year, Italy provided Libya with four ships, but the Coast Guard's resources have been deemed inadequate to handle the task of stopping the flow of migrants, even despite that flow diminishing by some 95 percent since 2015, when hundreds of thousands of people from Africa and the Middle East managed to reach European soil.
Rome's announcement comes in the wake of reports that some 60 migrants went missing after an inflatable boat sunk some 50 miles off the coast of Libya. The Libyan Navy says only 41 migrants who wore life-saving jackets, have been rescued and brought back home. There were a total of 104 people on that boat, the Navy says.
The Italian news agency ANSA reported Monday that the new interior minister Matteo Salvini met with Libyan officials and signed the so-called "Salvini plan," — a set of measures aimed to "urgently strengthen" Libyan forces fighting illegal immigration.
The European Union has been experiencing a large-scale migration crisis since 2015 due to the influx of thousands of migrants and refugees fleeing crises in their home countries in the Middle East and North Africa. These migrants are trying to reach EU states through various routes, including via Italy, Greece, Turkey and the Balkans.