Overloaded boats, many carrying over 300 people - are landing in southern Italy. There have been 25,000 requests for asylum in 2008 alone. There has to be a reason for all this. Italy is pained at the consequences, but people are running from something they perceive as terrible.
Hundreds of immigrants land on Italian island
By Peter Popham in Milan
Sunday, 28 December 2008
Italy's reception centre on Lampedusa, between Malta and Tunisia, was built to house only 840 illegal migrants but now has twice that number
More than 900 immigrants have arrived on the southern Italian island of Lampedusa this weekend, bringing the numbers which have landed in Italy this year to more than 30,000 - more than double the number that arrived in 2007 and much the highest figure since the traffic started.
The conditions of the journey, which takes at least four or five days, are more hellish than ever. “They travel literally one on top of another,” said Francesco Galipo, at the Maritime Rescue Centre in Palermo. “We have intercepted boats 14 metres long with 324 people on board.”
After a lull during which rough seas prevented crossings, the latest landings brought the arrivals over the Christmas period to more than 1,700. Laura Boldrini, spokesperson for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, commented, “We can no longer consider summer the only season when people arrive. Now they are coming all the year round.” - more