Reaching continent via Italy 15th June 2011: Nothing less than 2,500 illegal immigrants a week are finding their way into the continent from North Africa via Italy, believes the European Union’s border protection agency.
The official statistics from Warsaw-based Frontex reveal 33,000 people entered Europe illegally for the first three months of the year. Out of the total, 22,600 coming via Italy.
A majority of them were economic migrants coming from Tunisia and sub-Sahran Africa. They had left behind countries after being hit by uprisings known as the Arab Spring.
A substantial number of them have made it to the continent via the Italian projection of Lampedusa. They poured in on wobbly fishing boats.
The data was made public in Athens by Frontex deputy director Gil Arias Fernandez. It came during Fernandez’s visit to Greece — the main entry point for illegal immigrants into Europe up until this year.
Fernandez said it was tough to predict what would happen during the rest of the year. But the situation would remain quite dramatic in the central Mediterranean.
Quoting the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, he said more than 41,000 people have attempted to enter Europe through Lampedusa and other Italian islands.