Thousands of migrants flee north Africa for Italy

August 16, 2011 15:50


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ROME - A boat carrying around 280 migrants arrived in the small Italian island of Lampedusa from north Africa on Tuesday, bringing the total number of arrivals since the weekend to more than 2,000, authorities said.

Tens of thousands of refugees and would-be migrants have arrived in Lampedusa since the upheavals in North Africa this year, setting off a crisis that has come close to overwhelming the tiny island.

According to estimates from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, more than 1,500 people have died trying to make the crossing in overcrowded, often poorly maintained fishing vessels.

UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards said the weekend arrivals had come from Libya and Tunisia and included 200 women and 30 children.

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