Berlusconi pledge fails to halt migrant island influx

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Berlusconi pledge fails to halt migrant island influx

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Nearly 200 North Africans have arrived on the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa, just hours after Silvio Berlusconi pledged to make it migrant free.

Two boats brought them to what has become a giant open-air encampment, with poor sanitary provision. Islanders are outnumbered by the uninvited guests.

Under fire for failing to act so far, Italy’s prime minister visited Lampedusa, pledging the approximately 6,000 migrants would be gone by the weekend.

Berlusconi vowed to revive its tourist industry, even saying he had bought a house on the island himself.

The evacuation of migrants to holding centres on the mainland has swung into action. But the influx continues amid political turmoil in the Arab world. Some 19,000 Tunisians have arrived on Lampedusa since the start of the year.