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More refugees fleeing Libya, Tunisia arrive in Italy

From Ivan Watson, CNN
Refugees from Libya wait after disembarking from a boat onto the Italian island of Lampedusa on April 19, 2011.
Refugees from Libya wait after disembarking from a boat onto the Italian island of Lampedusa on April 19, 2011.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • One ship was from Libya and the other was from Tunisia
  • People have been making the journey since February
  • Lampedusa and Malta have borne the brunt of refugee flight
RELATED TOPICS
  • Lampedusa
  • Africa
  • Libya

Lampedusa, Italy (CNN) -- More than 400 people fleeing Libya and Tunisia arrived overnight in an Italian island on Saturday, the latest in a stream of refugees escaping volatile and unstable North Africa.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said the people reached the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa in two boats, one from Libya and the other from Tunisia.

The vessel from Libya carried 199 people fleeing the country's civil war, and the other carried 218 Tunisians looking for better lives in Europe.

Five boats containing 1,271 passengers reached Lampedusa on Friday.

Many of the refugees are from sub-Saharan Africa, including Sierra Leone and Senegal. Others include Bangladeshis and Egyptians.

More than 30,000 migrants and refugees from Tunisia and Libya have risked this dangerous journey to Lampedusa since last February.

Lampedusa and Malta, both islands less than an hour's flight from the North African coast, have borne the brunt of the subsequent wave of migration.

At one point, the population of migrants vastly outnumbered the tiny population of Lampedusa, which numbers less than 6,000.

The number of new arrivals from Tunisia has reduced somewhat, thanks in part to a recent agreement with Italy to improve patrolling along the Tunisian coast.

 
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