The Italian government has formally requested aid from the European Union to help it cope with thousands of Tunisians arriving on its shores.
Some 5,000 migrants have landed on the Italian island of Lampedusa in recent days, following Tunisia's uprising in January.
Italy's interior minister said the country was seeking some 100m euros ($134m; £84m) to tackle the influx.
The mayor of Lampedusa has declared a state of emergency.
Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi told EU President Herman Van Rompuy in a telephone conversation that the situation "is urgent and concerns all of the European Union", according to a government statement quoted by AFP news agency.
Italy's Interior Minister Roberto Maroni said he had filed a request for funds on Monday.
He also said he had asked for the intervention of the EU's border management agency, Frontex, and placed an additional 200 soldiers on alert to supervise the centres where the migrants are staying.
One such centre on the island - which houses 850 people - has been reopened and thousands have been shipped to Sicily, where there are more facilities.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has described the migrants as "a mixed flow" - some were fleeing insecurity in Tunisia, following last month's uprising there, while others were seizing the chance to get to Europe to find work.
Lampedusa Mayor Bernadino Rubeis said on Tuesday: "There is an entire nation trying to escape Tunisia to reach Italy and then to go on to other countries."
Since Tunisia overthrew Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali last month, police patrols along the coast have been patchy.
The Italian request for funds came as EU foreign policy chief Baroness Ashton visited Tunis.
She said the EU wanted to be Tunisia's "strongest ally" in pushing towards democracy and announced new EU help of 17m euros (£14m; $23m).