Italy warns of Libya humanitarian, migration emergency

By Agence France-Presse

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte warned Thursday that the deteriorating situation in Libya could create a humanitarian crisis and increase the number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean.

"Ongoing fighting and a rising number of dead, now estimated at several hundred, as well as the wounded and displaced, signals the real risk of a humanitarian crisis that must be quickly resolved," Conte told parliament.

"The humanitarian emergency, with its consequences on the flow of migrants... requires determination and rapid action," Conte said.

Dozens of people are confirmed dead in Libya since military strongman Khalifa Haftar's forces launched an offensive last week to capture the capital Tripoli, which is controlled by a UN-backed government and an array of militias.

UN chief Antonio Guterres has warned that Libya is on the brink of "a very dangerous situation" as the rival forces battle for control of Tripoli.

Thousands of people have fled heavy fighting on the outskirts of the capital.

Former colonial power Italy's far-right deputy prime minister and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has taken a hard line against immigrants, particularly those making the perilous journey across the Mediterranean from Libya.