The Italian government has announced plans to tackle the massive influx of illegal North African migrants on the island of Lampedusa.
The arrival of thousands of young mostly Tunisian men, in search of work in Europe, has transformed the normally quiet and small fishing island into a frontline for the country’s immigration crisis.
Furious residents have tried to block the port in protest at the long-running saga and complain of being abandoned by their government and the world. Lampedusa’s normal population of around 5,000 has more than tripled since the start of the year, with hundred of new arrivals every day.
The Italian government says it now plans to send six large navy transport vessels on Wednesday to clear all the illegal migrants off the island to other parts of Italy. It has also offered 200 million euros to Tunisia in aid and credit to help it tighten border controls following the overthrow of former president Ben Ali.