Italian MP laments 'massive' refugee influx

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The Italian government is planning to reduce the maximum amount of time people can stay in immigration centres. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP
07:23 CET+01:00
The number of refugees landing in Italy rose tenfold in January, the country's deputy interior minister said on Tuesday, complaining of an "incessant and massive influx of migrants".

January 2014 saw a total of 2,156 migrants in Italy, compared to 217 the previous year, the official added.

"In 2013, Italy was subjected to an incessant and massive influx of migrants from North Africa and the Middle East," Filippo Bubbico told parliament.

Throughout the whole of 2013, a total of 2,925 vessels of various shapes and sizes landed on Italian shores, carrying about 43,000 people, including nearly 4,000 children.

This represented a rise of 325 percent on the previous year.

Bubbico also announced that Prime Minister Enrico Letta's coalition government intended to reduce the maximum amount of time people could stay in immigration detention centres - currently fixed at 18 months.

Immigration charities estimate that between 17,000 and 20,000 migrants have died at sea trying to reach Europe over the past 20 years, often crossing on rickety fishing boats or rubber dinghies.

Italy, one of the main landing points, launched a military and humanitarian operation to deal with the influx in October, after hundreds of migrants
drowned in two shipwreck tragedies near the island of Lampedusa.

Since then, it has saved more than 8,000 people from the sea, the defence ministry said last month.

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SEE ALSO: 'We need concrete action to help migrants': MPs

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