Nearly 350 Tunisians have arrived on the Italian island of Lampedusa, after a week in which poor weather had interrupted the flow of people fleeing the country.
“Overnight, we escorted a boat with 347 people on board, including four women,” said the island’s coast guard.
The last landing from Tunisia was on February 23, when around 30 would-be immigrants had to be rescued.
Since then, poor weather has halted further attempts to cross the narrow stretch of the Mediterranean to reach the European island.
The new arrivals were transferred to a reception centre which Italian officials have only recently managed to empty after an influx of over 5,000 immigrants since January.
The wave of immigration follows the January revolution in Tunisia that ousted strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, and the wave of popular unrest in Egypt that in February unseated Hosni Mubarak’s decades-old regime.
Italy declared a state of emergency on February 12, and appealed for European help to cope with the surge in arrivals at Lampedusa.
The European Union sent experts from Frontex, its border management agency, to help debrief and interview migrants, with special attention given to identifying those who may be in need of international protection.
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