Up to one million poised to leave Libya for Italy

ROME – Between 500,000 and a million migrants could set off for Europe via Italy from Libya this year, the executive director of the EU’s Frontex border agency told ANSA Friday.

“We have to be ready to address a more difficult situation than last year,” said Fabrice Leggeri. “Our sources tell us there are anywhere between 500,000 to a million people ready to leave from Libya”.

The EU has vowed to boost Frontex’s Triton operation to try to cope with greater migrant flows and avert disasters. Frontex coordinates the EU’s Triton maritime patrol operation in the southern Mediterranean, which replaced Italy’s better-funded Mare Nostrum migrant-search-and-rescue programme last year.

Frontex “can’t cope” on its own with a migrant emergency in the Mediterranean, Leggeri said. He asked for “more resources” from the EU as well as a “contribution” from more member states…

Related: Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said Thursday that dialogue with dictators was an inevitable part of efforts to stem the tide of migrants from North Africa…

Related: EU Considers Sending Officers Abroad to Assess Migrant Needs: BRUSSELS — The European Union is weighing whether to send immigration officers abroad to assess the needs of would-be migrants as increasing numbers of people try to reach the EU illegally.

EU migration spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud said Friday that “the plan is perhaps to have immigration officers in some countries.”

The officers could establish what legal avenues of migration might be open for some people and whether they need urgent help.

Bertaud said the EU is considering a test phase in Niger “to look at people who need protecting immediately.”