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Italy begins electronic border control in Libya

Updated: 2013-10-31 19:31
( Xinhua)

TRIPOLI - Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan said Wednesday that Italy has launched a border protection program in Libya following a series of deadly refugee shipwrecks.

"Italy began border electronic control via aerial surveillance, starting from Owaynat in the south to Algerian and Tunisian borders," Zeidan told a press conference.

He said Italy is determined to contribute to the establishment of Libyan institutions as the country struggles with security issues. The Italian government has also pledged to train about 3,000 Libyan soldier units.

Earlier this month, Italian police and Libyan Interior Ministry officials discussed joint action to curb illegal migration across the Mediterranean Sea.

Zeidan described illegal migration as sometimes being "out of the hands of the authorities."

The program came in the wake of a series of deadly shipwrecks in the Mediterranean since last October, with reports of about 1,000 migrants and asylum seekers drowned since 2011 while travelling from Libya to Italy by boat.

The tragedies have prompted Italy, as well as the European Union, to respond with emergency measures.

Italy lined up with other European countries last September to sign an agreement for joint patrolling operations, as well as training for the Libyan Coastal Guard and security forces due to patrol in the southern desert of the North African country.

However, porous borders mean it is impossible to get reliable figures of how many migrants have passed through Libya in the southern desert.