Italy and Malta have urged the European Union (EU) to press Libya to stop gangs smuggling migrants on overcrowded boats from Africa and prevent the type of accidents that occurred in October 2013.
Two incidents were reported in the month, where one boat carrying migrants capsized in Lampedusa, an island between Sicily and Tunisia, and the other off the coast of Sicily, Italy.
Most of the Eritrean migrants had sailed from Libya, where smugglers mistreated them and forced them to pay huge amounts to be carried to Europe.
Following a meeting with Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, Italy Prime Minister Enrico Letta said there needs to be an EU initiative with Libya to try to manage patrols and border controls differently.
"We save lives but we will not permit illegal activities," Letta added.
According to Muscat, the EU was responsible for allowing thousands to risk their lives by crossing the Mediterranean on overcrowded vessels.
Muscat said, "We are doing more than our resources permit. We have to send a strong message that we will still save lives but we must combat trafficking."
Italy has already deployed naval vessels, helicopters and unmanned drones to prevent further incidents at sea.
Muscat said they are preparing to send a military vessel to Libya to help patrol the coast and prevent boats carrying migrants from departing.