So far this year alone Italy has rescued more than 50, 000 refugees from overcrowded and unsafe boats in the waters between North Africa and Sicily.
Many are fleeing civil war in Syria and forced military service in Eritrea.
European Union law says the country where refugees first arrive should handle their applications for asylum.
The United Nations refugee agency is urging the Eu to change its rules to help ease the load on Italy.
(SOUNDBITE)(English) UN HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES SOUTH EUROPE SPOKESPERSON, CARLOTTA SAMI, SAYING:
"The European Union is based on the principle of solidarity and the principles of solidarity should be concretised in some way and this is where we think there is a lack of action that could be, on the contrary, activated in this particularly difficult moment for thousands, I would say millions of persons."
The U.N says European Union nations should adopt a quota system to share round arriving migrants rescued in inte