Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni
BRUSSELS, Belgium – As Jihadist’s insurgency continues to intensify, Italy intends to deploy about 470 troops to Niger to assist block people-smuggling.
The announcement was contained in a statement by the military General Staff said on Thursday.
Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni on Sunday announced that about 1,400 Italian troops now situated in Iraq could be relocated to the Sahel region in West Africa––after victories against Islamist militants in Iraq.
Prime Minister Gentiloni said the dispatched troops could also assist to combat terrorism in the Sahel which includes Niger.
The Italian General Staff said in a statement that a scouting mission was underway in Niger to help decide the scale of the assistance. According to sources, the Nigerien government made the request from Italy but the authorization still needs to be approved by Italy’s parliament.
“The aim of the mission is to increase the operational capacity of the Niger forces and put them in a position to guarantee stability in the area and fight illegal trafficking of migrants,” it The General Staff release added.
Globe Afrique has also learned that Italy’s president on Thursday had dissolved the country’s parliament ahead of an election due in March, but lawmakers are expected to continue meeting, implying that they could approve Prime Minister Gentiloni’s request to transfer the military personnel.
Italy suffers from the brunt of seaborne illegal migration to Europe from Africa. More than 700,000 people, mainly sub-Sahara Africans, have made the unsafe journey across the central Mediterranean Sea from Libya in the past half a decade.
Since officials serving the U.N.-backed government in Tripoli persuaded smugglers to stop boats leaving and the Libyan coastguard stepped up interceptions at sea, the arrival of illegal migrants in Italy and Europe has drastically reduced.