15 JUN 2011
EU border protection agency says most coming from Arab Spring uprisings
By Nick Pisa | Mail Online
As many as 2,500 illegal immigrants a week are flooding into the continent from North Africa through Italy, the European Union's border protection agency has revealed.
The official figures, which came from Warsaw based Frontex, show that for the first three months of this year 33,000 people entered Europe illegally with 22,600 coming through Italy.
Most of those were economic migrants from Tunisia and sub-Sahran Africa who had fled countries that had been hit by popular uprisings in what was dubbed the Arab Spring.
Many of them came through the rocky Italian outcrop of Lampedusa on rickety fishing boats pushing the island's limited resources to the limit with numbers at one point being double that of the 5,000 local inhabitants.
The figures were revealed in Athens by Frontex deputy director Gil Arias Fernandez during a visit to Greece which up until this year was the main entry point for illegal immigrants into Europe.
Mr Fernandez said that for the first quarter of this year just 7,200 illegal entries were registered in Greece - last year for the same period just 147 illegal migrants had been detected trying to enter Italy, compared to 13,085 attempting to get into Greece.
He added that while it was difficult to predict what would happen in the rest of the year, 'the situation will remain quite dramatic in the central Mediterranean.'
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