Italy is being accused of paying off Libyan militias linked to people smugglers in order to stop trafficking migrants across the Mediterranean for a month.

The claim, which coincides with an 86 percent fall in the number of asylum-seekers reaching Italy this month, compared to August of last year, comes as European and African leaders met in Paris to discuss how to stem the migrant flow roiling Europe.

According to Middle East Eye, a London-based news site, the Italian government has been paying off local brigades in the city of Sabratha, 80 kilometers west of the Libyan capital, Tripoli. The alleged payoffs involve cash, aid and equipment, and are channeled through the city’s municipal authorities, which are controlled by the militias, the site claims.

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