Migrants to be cleared from Lampedusa
23rd September 2011: The police said Italy will clear the majority of Tunisian immigrants from Lampedusa Island on its southernmost tip by Thursday. The statement came after the immigrants clashed with police and set on fire several buildings.
Senior police official Giuseppe Bisogno said by Thursday evening, the reception centre of Imbriacola will be cleared out for security reasons after certain buildings were set afire.
According to figures presented to the Italian parliament Wednesday, total immigrant arrivals to Lampedusa since January exceeded 50,000 with 45,090 men, 2,608 women and 2,705 children.
It is not the first time that the holding centre has been the scene of immigrant objections over cramped conditions or lengthy waiting times to be transferred to other reception centres on the mainland.
About 270 Tunisian immigrants were still in the centre and 140 minors on another site in the tiny island, where clashes between immigrants and police on Wednesday left at least 13 injured, including three policemen.
Tension has been mounting on the southern Italian island over the past few days. With more than 1,000 Tunisian migrants who face repatriation under an agreement with Tunis uproaring to be taken to the mainland, the situation has gone bad.
The UN refugee agency and several charities have communicated their disappointment with the Italian government’s handling of the situation after protests at the island’s crowded reception centre.