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Europe extends Mediterranean migrants mission

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Migrants arrive in Sicily last week on an Italian patrol boat Reuters/Antonio Parrinello

The European Commission announced on Thursday that it was extending its rescue mission in the Mediterranean Sea off Italy until at least the end of the year. It also granted Rome extra funding to deal with an influx of migrants from Africa and the Middle East.


When Italy wound down its costly Mare Nostrum operation in November last year the European Commission launched Operation Triton.

Managed by the European Union's border control agency Frontex, it was only expected to run for a few months with greatly reduced funds, fewer ships and a smaller operational area than Mare Nostrum.

But the flow of migrants arriving spurred by the turbulence in the Middle East and Africa looks set to increase.

More than 5,000 migrants have already arrived in Italy this year.

Given the growing pressure, the commission handed Italy 13.7 million euros of emergency funding, which came on top of more than 500 million euros earmarked for Rome for the 2014-2020 period.