News / Africa

More Migrants Reach Italy from North Africa

Migrants receive assistance as they arrive on the tiny island of Lampedusa, Italy, May 8, 2011 (file photo).
Migrants receive assistance as they arrive on the tiny island of Lampedusa, Italy, May 8, 2011 (file photo).

More than 1,000 migrants fleeing North Africa reached Italian shores Friday and Saturday, adding to a refugee crisis triggered by unrest in Tunisia and Libya.

Officials said eight boats carrying 1,300 people arrived at the Italian island of Lampedusa.

Many of the refugees are migrant workers from sub-Saharan Africa, including Senegal and Somalia.

Lampedusa, one of the closest points of Italian soil to Africa, has been at the center of the influx of people fleeing North Africa.

More than 35,000 migrants have reached Lampedusa and other Italian islands since the start of the year. Most have come from Tunisia, although the flow has been reduced recently by an agreement between Italy and Tunisia.

The refugee crisis has prompted the European Union's executive body to propose a plan to temporarily restore border controls between EU nations in special cases.

EU interior ministers met in Brussels Thursday to review the 25-nation Schengen accord, which allows people to move freely across the borders of member states. EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said there was consensus that free movement has to be safeguarded. But she said some of the Schengen rules must be clarified so there are no loopholes.

At times the migrants in Lampedusa have outnumbered the island's regular population of less than 6,000.

Some of the migrants have died at sea while trying to reach Europe.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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