Pattaya Daily News

29 March 2011 :: 10:03:00 am 52230

Thousands of Immigrants Arrive on Italy’s Island

LAMPEDUSA, Italy – Tensions rise high as thousands of African immigrants from Libya continue to arrive on shore of Italy’s Mediterranean island of Lampedusa.
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On Monday, several local women chained themselves to the quay to stop further landing of new immigrants, who were blamed for recent crimes such as theft and assault.

One young man, Giuseepe, who refused to give his surname, told the reporter, “I’m not a racist but now we just can’t take any more.”

Another local plumber, Emanuele (who did not want to give his full name) also agreed, “The government does nothing and we don’t feel safe with all these people coming and going everywhere.”

The mayor, Dino De Rubeis reported that the stench along the dockside has become unbearable, as a small hillside nearby had been transformed into an open toilet.   He added that the island’s local residents have become outraged.

Mustafa Abdeljalil, head of the opposition national provisional council, promised to tackle the immigration problem if it managed to take power.

“We will take part (in efforts) to stop clandestine immigration by stopping them from entering Libya and fighting the criminal organizations that allow it,” he said, speaking from Libya in a telephone interview.

Italy’s government has already announced a special cabinet meeting Wednesday to discuss the immigration problem.

Police, customs officers and paramilitary carabinieri patrolled the island and continued their thorough search for fresh arrivals. 

The latest incomings were around 150 Eritreans and Somalis who landed from Libya late Monday.

On the quayside police officers tried their best to stop journalists, photographers and cameramen from speaking with the exhausted newcomers before they were taken on a bus to a disused military base on the island.

“They arrived on two vessels, and among them were many women and children,” De Rubeis told journalists.

He added, the newcomers would not mixed well with the earlier arrivals, mainly from Tunisia.

“We don’t want to mix the Somalis and Eritreans, among whom are a lot of women and children, with the young Tunisians, for in 2008 we had incidents in this kind of situation,” De Rubeis said.

“I spoke three, four times by telephone with the interior minister (Roberto) Maroni and he assured me that all the immigrants would be evacuated by Wednesday,” he added.

The mayor said that some 700 people were to fly off the island on Tuesday and on Wednesday 6 ships were to evacuate another 6,000 migrants from the Mediterranean island.

The meanwhile the main opposition left-wing Democratic Party criticized the lack of provision for the migrants at the quayside.

“It’s shameful.  The state presence is limited to two doctors, two nurses, three toilets and a meal made up of a bottle of water for three, an empty sandwich and a bit of rice,” said the party’s immigration spokeswoman Livia Turco.

Lampedusa is located closer to North Africa than to mainland Italy.  Consequently, 18,501 people have already been migrated to the island since the beginning of the year, according to the latest official statistics published Sunday.  That compares with 4,000 for the entire year of 2010. 

In 2008 Italy and Libya signed a treaty, which the Italian authorities said has led to a decrease in illegal immigration to Italy by 94%.

The Italian government has suspended the treaty and fears that hundreds of thousands of immigrants could arrive on Italy mainland if Kadhafi’s regime fell.  Kadhafi himself has threatened to send “millions” of migrants to Europe.

Italy has requested increased assistance from the European Union.

Credit by: http://au.news.yahoo.com

Photo : Internet   Category : World News

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