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Tensions rise on Italian island

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Tensions rise on Italian island


North African refugees on the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa are becoming frustrated at delays in transferring them to the mainland.

A caravan was set alight and scuffles broke out as tensions rose on Saturday.

Prime Minister Berlusconi had promised to clear the island of up to 4000 Tunisians in 2 to 3 days, but strong winds have prevented ships from docking.

It’s estimated that around 18 000 Tunisians have passed through the island since dictator Ben Ali was overthrown in January. The remainig refugees are waiting to be transferred to holding centres on the Italian mainland, but many fear being eventually repatriated to Tunisia.

The island’s residents are asking why the Italian government is taking so long to act.

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