Italy is deporting more than 1,000 migrants a month, as record numbers continue to cross the sea into Europe.
Authorities in the country have sent home about 6,250 migrants since January, many of whom arrived on dilapidated boats from nearby Libya (pictured above).
The figures for this year mark a 24% increase on figures from 2016, and show that the country has become more efficient at removing new arrivals with no right to stay.
Many claim to be fleeing war or persecution in war-torn Libya, and ask for asylum under international law.
But Italian officials increasingly suspect that many are economic migrants from further afield who travel via Libya because it offers a gateway to Europe that would usually be closed to them.
Under migration rules, Italian migration agencies must prove that new arrivals are economic migrants – and not genuine asylum seekers – before they can send them home.
In a public statement, interior minister Marco Minniti said his officials have gotten faster at the process. They hope to improve further still, and are hiring 250 extra officials to help with the workload, The Times of London reported.
His country sent back more than 18,000 new arrivals last year, and the figure seems likely to be much higher for 2017.
Migrant flows into Europe have shifted since the crisis began in earnest in 2015.
Initially Greece was the hub of migration into Europe, but increased enforcement there means that Italy is now the most popular destination.