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Wave of African refugees arrives on Italian, Maltese shores

© AFP

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2013-03-29

Some 342 African migrants landed in Italy and Malta after their vessels were intercepted in the Mediterranean Sea, officials said on Friday. Many North Africans have fled the continent since the Arab Spring of 2011 brought instability to the region.

Four boats carrying a total of 342 migrants have landed in Italy and Malta, officials said Friday, as improved weather conditions in the Mediterranean herald more arrivals from Libyan shores.

Three of the boats with 260 people on board were intercepted by Italian coast guards and taken to an immigration centre on the tiny island of Lampedusa, which is closer to north Africa than to the Italian mainland.

Maltese armed forces rescued a dinghy packed with 82 migrants 68 nautical miles south of the island.

The migrants, who said they were from Somalia, had sent out a distress signal when the dinghy's engine failed.

The group included 10 women, one of whom is pregnant, and a toddler.

Tens of thousands of migrants have arrived on Italian shores since the Tunisian revolution in January 2011 set off a chain reaction across north Africa, bringing tumultuous political change and severe economic hardship.

(AFP)

Date created : 2013-03-29

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