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Lampedusa is an island in the Mediterranean Sea, part of the Province of Agrigento, in the region of Sicily, Italy; it is the largest of the Pelagie Islands. Tunisia is the closest shore to Lampedusa. It is situated 127 miles from Sicily and 70 miles from Tunisia, and is the southernmost point in Italy. Its population of approximately 4,500 subsists on fishing, agriculture and tourism. Now Lampedusa is being flooded with unwanted visitors trying to escape the North African turmoil.
This nine square miles of unspoiled Italian paradise in the southern Mediterranean is becoming a refugee camp for thousands of desperate people fleeing war and poverty.
Closer to Tunisia than to Italy, Lampedusa has long been accustomed to a trickle of refugees landing on its shores. But nothing could have prepared it for the onslaught that has overrun the population of only 5,000. Over the past two months, an estimated 20,000 migrants have flocked to the island in an exodus that has, until recently, been ignored by the Italian government and the rest of Europe. For much of the past two weeks, there have been more than 6,000 migrants – including 350 children – sleeping rough in what Amnesty International has described as “appalling” conditions.
The European military powers showed great eagerness to get involved in the Libya situation and this is why. The 20,000 could turn into 200,000 and maybe more. Fragile economies and increasing anger directed at poor foreigners looking for safety and a better life, could bring down governments and put the Euro-zone into economic freefall.