UN figures revealing more than 94,000 people have crossed the Mediterranean
Italy is grappling with an influx, with UN figures revealing more than 94,000 people have crossed the Mediterranean into the nation so far this year.
And more than 2,300 have died while trying to attempt the perilous crossing.
At its shortest distance, the EU country is a mere 290 miles from the coast of Libya, a largely lawless country which has seen the number of people smugglers rocket.
Given the short distance to the EU from the North African coast, Italy is dealing with a higher number of migrants on their shores when compared to other countries on the continent, particularly northern Europe.
Rome has pleaded with Brussels and its neighbours for help in dealing with the influx, with many politicians voicing their frustration over what they see as being abandoned to deal with the issue themselves.
President of political party Fratelli d’Italia, or Brothers of Italy, lamented the situation in the country.
Giorgia Meloni said: “Italy is now the refugee camp of Europe.”
Libya has become fractured and unstable, but oil production remains its key export
Fellow politician Alessandro Di Battista, from the M5S party, took a swipe at Paris over the situation.
He said: “France gets the oil while Italy keeps the boats.”
His comments are indicative over infighting among EU countries, with Italy viewing France as having its claws in Libya’s lucrative oil trade.
Italy is now the refugee camp of Europe
Once producing some 1.6 million barrels a day of the black gold, production plummeted after dictator Muammar Gaddafi was toppled by an international coalition in 2011.
During the action to topple Gaddafi, Paris led the NATO airstrikes with the French Air Force flying a third of NATO sorties.
Despite a shaky recovery, production has recovered to 1.4 million barrels a day, and makes up 80 per cent of Libya’s GDP.
Alessandro Di Battista, from the M5S party, took a swipe at Paris over the situation
Libya has become fractured and unstable, but oil production remains its key export and props up its fragile economy.
But Italy bitterly views France as profiteering off the oil, while it gets saddled with the migrants who come over in their thousands.
Last year French company Technip has signed a $ 500million (£380n) deal to refurbish an oil platform off the coast off Libya, which includes Libya’s National Oil Company.
Despite Italian firm ENI part of the consortium, France is seen at the forefront of the project, with Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault saying at the time: “The project demonstrates the desire of French companies to contribute to the petroleum sector, the backbone of the Libyan economy.”
The boost was widely seen as French attempt’s to prop up the economy, giving it a much needed boost.
But the current situation in the Mediterranean has led the desperate Italian government to toy with the idea of issuing 200,000 temporary migrant visas for onwards travel within Europe, in a bid to force other countries to take on more responsibility.
Last year French company Technip has signed a $ 500million (£380n) deal to refurbish an oil platform
And the latest measure to tackle the rising numbers has seen a fleet of Italian ships in a de facto battle with Libyan vessels in the Mediterranean Sea, after the Italian government ordered the Navy to try to stop ships making the journey across the water.
In response General Kalifa Haftar, who controls most of the east of Libya, ordered Libyan forces to bomb any Italian ships part of the mission.
The Libyan National Army said in a statement: “Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, issues orders to the Libyan naval bases in Tobruk, Benghazi, Ras Lanuf and Tripoli to confront any marine unit that enters the Libyan waters without the permission of the army.”