Thousands of Tunisian immigrants land in Italy, authorities tighten controls

09:15, February 12, 2011      

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Over 2,000 Tunisian immigrants landed on southern Italy's coasts on Friday and thousands more are expected to follow soon amid the Maghreb and Egyptian crises, causing local authorities to intensify sea patrolling and controls.

Twenty boats coming from Tunisia have been intercepted in Sicily's Canal by the coastal authorities. According to the police who intercepted the boats, more people are waiting to depart from central Tunisian ports of Sfax and Zarzis, on the frontier with Libya, ready to pay for the sea trip fee of some 2, 000 U.S. dollars per person.

Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni on Friday warned against incoming illegal migratory fluxes also from Egypt following president Hosni Mubarak's resignation.

"The regional crisis in Maghreb and Egypt is triggering a mass exodus. Hundreds of people are ready to jump on boats to head towards Italy and we are implementing all possible measures to avoid a humanitarian crisis,"he said.

Maroni stressed that it was essential to closely monitor frontiers and boost cooperation with Libya on the basis of the treaty signed in 2008 aimed at cracking-down on sea immigration at the origin.

The minister however added that much will depend upon how the Libyan authorities will deal in the region with the migratory outcomes of the dual shocks in Maghreb and Egypt.

Maroni also urged the European Union (EU) to adopt a more burden-sharing approach on immigration issues as Italy acts like an entrance door for many illegal refugees seeking shelter in Europe.

Source: Xinhua

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