Italy announced Sept. 22 that it will transfer and repatriate all migrants off the island of Lampedusa within 48 hours, following clashes with police and residents. Some 26,000 Tunisians and 28,000 people of other nationalities from Libya have arrived in Lampedusa this year since the beginning of the Arab revolutions. Italy has been sending the bulk of the Tunisians home if they don’t qualify for political asylum, but residents on the island protest that they have been overwhelmed. Clashes broke out as residents hurled stones at migrants who were threatening to blow up gas canisters at a petrol station by the port, resulting in what the Italian news agency AGI called “an episode of urban guerrilla.” Residents also assaulted TV crews and other journalists covering the clashes, which left several people injured. Lampedusa mayor Bernardino De Rubeis denounced the government for abandoning the island to cope with the chaos alone, calling the migrants “delinquents” and insisting the island will not accept one more. Those arrested in the clashes have been transferred to a jail in Sicily. (The Independent, Sept. 23; The Telegraph, AGI, AGI, Sept. 22)
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