Of all the countries in the European Union, Italy, Malta, Greece and Cyprus attract the most migrants. Dealing with a constant flow of political asylum seekers and other immigrants, who largely hail from North Africa, these nations feel overwhelmed by the increasing influx.
In response, top officials have signed a joint document calling on the European Union to step up efforts to renegotiate deportation agreements with key countries of migrant origin and transit, like Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia. They also want the EU to share the burden of illegal immigration.
In the meantime, boatloads of asylum seekers continue to wash onto the shores of Lampedusa, Sicily, whose detention centre has been past capacity for months. Last week, officials reported that at least 200 people died in transit from Africa to Italy.
In an effort to deal with the in-creasing flow of people from Africa, the Italian cabinet recently approved an amendment that provides for the deportation of illegal migrants and requires legal immigrants to pay an additional fee for residency permits and Italian citizenship. The amendment sparked outrage among human rights activists and center-left politicians.