Italy has threatened to stop foreign boats carrying migrants to its ports. The country's representative to the EU, Maurizio Massari on Wednesday (28 June) warned in a letter to the bloc that the situation had become "unsustainable".

According to Massari, the country could deny the landing of boats that are "not flying Italian flags and are not part of EU missions." Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni has also accused other European nations of "looking the other way" as more than 73,000 migrants have landed in Italy this year. This figure shows an increase of 14% over last year's number.

An Italian government source told Reuters: "The idea of blocking humanitarian ships flying foreign flags from returning to Italian ports has been discussed. Italy has reached saturation point."

The European Commissioner for Immigration, Dimitri Avramopoulos, also met Massari to discuss the crisis.

Avramopoulos said, "Italy is right that the situation is untenable," adding that the country's management of the crisis was "exemplary".

However, the EU office on migration said that any changes to guidelines should give humanitarian groups time to prepare as the rules on disembarking are governed by international law.

Italy's neighbours and some EU partners such as Poland and Hungary have refused to host some asylum-seekers to ease the burden on Italy and Greece, another frontline country.

One of the reasons behind Italy's proposal to close its borders is to try to stop migrants from moving North Africa. An estimated 10,000 people are believed to have attempted the journey from North Africa in the past four days. More than 500,000 migrants have arrived by boat in Italy since 2014.

Most of the people who are rescued in the Mediterranean are those who try attempting the crossing from crisis-hit Libya as it is a gateway to Europe for migrants from across sub-Saharan Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Egypt, Syria and Bangladesh.

Italy migrants
More than 500,000 migrants have arrived by boat in Italy since 2014 REUTERS/Antonio Parrinello