Italy's military mission to Niger gets underway

Italy's military mission to Niger gets underway

Italian troops are set to go to Niger, defence minister Elizabetta Trenta said on Thursday, eight months after lawmakers approved the mission aimed at combatting migration and human trafficking.

"We've made it, after eight months of stalemate.....a very big achievement," Trenta wrote on Facebook, thanking Niger's government.

The mission's goal will be to "stem, together with Niger's forces, trafficking in humans and migrants who cross the country to then head for Libya and set sail for our shores," Trenta said.

During the months of deadlock, Italy had continued to give "humanitarian support" and medicines to Niger, she stated.

The Italian mission will be staffed by military trainers who will help local security forces strengthen control of Niger's territory, Trenta wrote.

"This will obviously respect the requirements of Niger's government," the post went on.

Trenta did not state how many Italian soldiers are being deployed in Niger but said men and women would make up the training teams.

The first three teams of military trainers have already been in Niger for several days and include men and women, Italian daily La Stampa said on Thursday.

Italian parliament approved up to 470 troops for Niger in its 17 January vote, which also approved an increased military presence in Libya.