Nigel Farage
Nigel Farage said south Mediterranean countries must send a "big message" to stop the migrants Getty

A "big message" must come from the likes of Italy and Greece after up to 950 migrants drowned in the Mediterranean on their way to Europe, Nigel Farage has declared.

The migrants, including about 200 women and 50 children, perished after their vessel sank off Libya's coast at the weekend.

The tragedy occurred after the European Union's (EU) border agency chief warned up to one million people are expected to attempt to cross before the end of 2015.

Farage said he would be "very happy" to send the Royal Navy "to go and try and help people who are in such plight".

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But the Ukip leader, who is standing in South Thanet, urged south Mediterranean countries to toughen up on migration.

"Unless you send a message that you are not going to unconditionally accept unlimited numbers of people, they are going to keep coming," he told BBC Breakfast.

The comments come after David Cameron said the EU had to tackle human traffickers and "deal with the instability in the countries concerned".

"We've got to make sure yes, there is an element of search and rescue, but that can only be one part of this and we should use all the resources we have, including our aid budget which can play a role in trying to stabilise countries and trying to stop people from travelling," the prime minister added.

Elsewhere, Marine Le Pen clashed with former French President Nicolas Sarkozy over the country's support for military intervention in Libya in 2011.

The leader of France's far-right Front National (FN) party alleged that Sarkozy's foreign policy had "set fire to the region and increased migratory pressure".

In Italy, a former minister shared a conspiracy theory on the nation's airwaves.

Daniela Santanché, a member of Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right party Forza Italia, told SkyTg24: "I suspect many of them are paid because they want them to come to Italy to invade and conquer us."