There are more than 800,000 people are about to leave the north African coast for Europe, according to Italian media.

They quoted border police chief Giovanni Pinto telling a joint meeting of the foreign and defence committees in the Senate that Italy had no place to take them, and locals were overwhelmed by the constant arrival of foreigners.

He said the situation was partly the result of the failed government in Libya, where most migrants from Africa headed before setting sail for Europe.

"We aren't dealing with a government that can establish treaties. We have no interlocutors...There's no prime minister...there are no ministers. There are two clans. One that's more moderate, the other that's extremist, backed by Qatar. We can offer them all the help they want, but it might be used in a negative way," he said.

Although Mare Nostrum, set up to prevent deaths at sea following two migrant ship disasters in October 2013 in which around 400 people died, was a success, more people were heading over to Italy.

Ansa said that according to Interior Minister Angelino Alfano, more than 20,500 migrants had already landed on Italy's coasts to date this year - an enormous increase over the 2,500 reported during the same period in 2013.

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us