Italy to give Libya 12 extra patrol boats

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Rome, July 3 (IANS/AKI) Italy will donate 12 extra boats to Libya to help the turmoil-wracked country boost its coast patrols and stop migrant trafficking boats setting sail from its shores, Premier Giuseppe Conte said on Tuesday.

The vessels approved at a cabinet meeting late on Monday included ten patrol boats and two larger vessels, he said.

The Italian government will also take responsibility for the maintenance of the 12 boats until the end of the year and offer training to the Libyan coastguard and naval authorities.

The Libyan coastguard has returned about 10,000 people to shore this year, according to the United Nations migration agency, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

“We are paying constant attention to the topic of migration,” Conte told reporters here.

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Arrivals to the Mediterranean countries of Italy, Spain and Greece have dipped sharply since the crisis of 2015 and more than halved this year till July 1 from the same period of 2017, IOM said on Tuesday.

A total 45,808 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea as of July 1, with just around 36 per cent arriving in Italy and the remainder divided between Greece (29 per cent) and Spain (34 per cent). The total compared with 100,923 last year according to the IOM figures.

The number of people who perished in the Mediterranean this year till July 1 was 1,405 compared with 2,268 during the same period and has topped 1,000 for the past four years.

–IANS/AKI

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