Italy says it has rescued 4,000 migrants from the Mediterranean Sea in the past two days.
Interior Minister Angelino Alfano told Italian state radio Wednesday that migrant rescues and landings have been "non-stop" and the migrant emergency is getting worse.
He is demanding the European Union do more to help police Mediterranean waters, saying tens of millions of dollars have failed to solve the problem.
Italy is a main gateway to Europe for African migrants seeking to escape war, poverty, and political turmoil.
The country began a permanent sea rescue operation late last year, after more than 400 migrants died in two shipwrecks off Italian shores.
Alfano condemned those who arrange the perilous trip across the sea from North Africa as "merchants of death."
He said about 15,000 migrants have arrived this year in Italy, and hundreds of thousands more are ready to board smuggling boats in Libya.