Italy’s parliament approved on Wednesday an increased military presence in Libya and the deployment of up to 470 troops in Niger to combat migration and the trafficking of people toward Europe, many of whom wash up on Italian shores.
The focus on Africa comes as Italy is seeking to stop migrants from reaching its shores. The mostly African immigrants first cross the Sahel states to reach Libya, where they set off in boats for Italy. More than 600,000 have come in the past four years.
The Niger mission was announced on Dec. 28 as Italy joined France and the United States, which already have troops there, in efforts to help President Mahamadou Issoufou better control Niger’s territory and borders.
Gentiloni said the mission would “guarantee stability in the area and fight illegal trafficking of migrants”.
Some 400 soldiers are expected to work in Libya, up from about 370, and, as a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Italy will send 60 troops to Tunisia to improve border control and fight terrorism.