Human traffickers are becoming increasingly aggressive as they take advantage of chaos in Africa and the Middle East and fears are mounting that hundreds of migrants will continue to die during the perilous crossing of the Mediterranean Sea.
The reception centre on the island of Lampedusa, off Sicily, is bursting, with close to 1,200 migrants compared to a capacity of 250.
Some of the residents are reported to have scabies.
Boats crowded with migrants are arriving by the thousands and there are increasing concerns with the numbers dying during the perilous crossing.
Italian officials say the traffickers’ strategy is to send them out at sea in huge numbers irrespective of weather conditions because their aim is to get the Mare Nostrum operation, in which the Italian navy rescued migrants left adrift in the Mediterranean, to resume.
That, they believe, will improve and increase their business again.
At the moment, Frontex is in charge of an EU coastguard mission patrolling the Mediterranean, dubbed Opera.