The Italian government has declared a national state of emergency, citing the large numbers of migrants arriving via the Mediterranean sea in recent weeks, reported dpa.
Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said the measure is intended to provide "effective and timely responses to the organization of the flows," her official residence in Rome announced late on Tuesday evening.
According to a statement, the government expects a further increase in migrant arrivals on its coasts in the coming months.
The state of emergency is valid for six months and should initially provide €5 million ($5.4 million) to the particularly affected regions in the south of Italy, Meloni's office confirmed to dpa.
The money is to be provided from the fund for national emergencies. It should also be easier to facilitate setting up new reception centres for refugees.
The cabinet had approved the declaration of a state of emergency following a proposal by Minister for Civil Defence Nello Musumeci.
"It must be clear that the state of emergency will not solve the problem," Musumeci said after Tuesday's meeting. Only a "deliberate and responsible intervention by the European Union" could help address it, he said.
With the state of emergency, however, the government could initially free up funds and aid more easily, he said.
The declaration triggered criticism among opposition politicians. Giuseppe Conte, Italy's former prime minister, said in a Facebook post that Meloni had decided on the state of emergency "because it is unable to cope with the arrivals of migrants, which have quadrupled compared to last year."
The Interior Ministry has recorded more than 28,000 people reaching Italian territory so far this year, more than four times the number in the same period last year, when more than 6,900 were recorded.
- State of emergency