February 16, 2011

EU Faces Challenge Of A Widening Wave Of Migrants by SYLVIA POGGIOLI

The uprisings in North African countries are creating newly freed societies, but it they are also triggering an exodus of people hoping to find greater stability and better employment in Europe.

In just a few days, 5,000 Tunisians have landed on Lampedusa, a small Italian island in the Mediterranean that normally has a population of just 6,000. The onslaught is challenging Italy and the rest of Europe to cope with this new migratory wave.

Lampedusa is a tiny flat island dotted with prickly pear cactus and sandy beaches.

It's closer to Africa than to the Italian mainland, and over the last decade it has become accustomed to receiving waves of boat people seeking better lives in Europe.

The latest to arrive are mostly young men.

Chakar Awadi, 28, says all he's seeking is freedom and honest work, either here or in France or Belgium. The sea passage was very dangerous, he says, with 75 people packed into a rickety boat for three days at sea.

When asked what he'll do if Italian authorities send him back home, he says he'll hang himself.

Read full article here.

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