There's been a sharp drop in migrant arrivals in Italy by sea this year, according to the Italian interior minister. There's also been a drop in asylum requests in the Southern European country.
Some 2,144 migrants landed on Italian shores between January 1 to June 10 of this year - compared with 14,339 during the same period last year. That's a 85 percent drop.
Of them, 670 had arrived from Libya (31 percent), 550 from Turkey (25 percent), 543 from Tunisia and 220 from Algeria.
A drop in the number of landings has gone hand-in-hand with a drop in the number of asylum requests. From January 1 to June 7 this year, some 15,634 requests were filed. That's 48 percent fewer than during the same period in 2018.
Asylum requests drop, 75 percent rejected
So far this year, Italian asylum commissions have made decisions in 42,916 cases, most of which - 75 percent - were rejected. Refugee status was granted to 11 percent of those who had requested it, subsidiary protection to 7 percent and stay permits for humanitarian reasons to 2 percent.
Some 63,380 cases are still pending, a sharp reduction from the 134,475 seen in June 2018.
The figures were presented by Sandra Sarti, head of the National Commission for the Right to Asylum, who spoke at a hearing of the Constitutional Affairs Commission of the Chamber of Deputies.
Sarti noted that, this year, "for the first time a considerable number of asylum requests have been filed from Latin American countries such as El Salvador, Peru and Venezuela."
The countries from which the largest number of people requested asylum in Italy this year were Pakistan (2,805), Nigeria (1,245) and Bangladesh (1,052).
'10 more boats to be given to Libya'
Immigration was the focus of a National Committee for Order and Security meeting chaired on Tuesday by Italy's Interior Minister Matteo Salvini. This meeting brought together high level personnel from the armed forces, the police and the intelligence services.
During the meeting, it emerged that 10 more boats will be given to Libya by Italy in the coming weeks.