ROME - Italian lawmakers have approved sending a military mission to Niger to combat human trafficking and terrorism.
The vote in the Chamber of Deputies on Wednesday was likely lawmakers' last session before a March 4 election.
Premier Paolo Gentiloni has said some of Italy's troops now in Iraq will be transferred to the African nation, a major migrant trafficking route. His center-left government is focusing on Africa in a strategy to combat trafficking of migrants to Libya and then onwards toward European shores via perilous journeys in smugglers' unseaworthy boats.
Hundreds of thousands of trafficked migrants, many of them fleeing poverty in Africa, have arrived in Italy after rescue at sea in recent years. Populist politicians in their election campaigns are citing growing public impatience with swelling migrant and refugee populations.