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Monday
Feb142011

Tunisian Refugees Wash Ashore In Italy

Photo Courtesy - ROBERTO SALOMONE/AFP/Getty Images(ROME) -- Italy has declared a humanitarian crisis as boatloads of Tunisians arrive on the shores of its southern island of Lampedusa. The migrants, mainly men, are making the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean in fishing boats and rubber dingies. They're hoping to escape the poverty and political upheaval since protests brought down the Tunisian government last month.

Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni has called the boatloads a "Biblical exodus." Three-thousand people arrived in the last three days alone. A refugee center and a nearby soccer stadium are temporarily housing the arrivals on the island; both are full beyond capacity.

Italy has appealed to Europe for assistance. It also suggested sending police to Tunisia to try to block would-be migrants from trying to reach Italy. The North African country nixed that idea, accusing Italy of infringing on its sovereignty.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio