2 Apr 2011

North African migrants transferred to mainland

9:38 am on 2 April 2011

Italy has transferred 1716 North African migrants - most of them from Tunisia - to a temporary camp site in its south-eastern Puglia region.

A "tent city" has been set up to accommodate them in Manduria.

They arrived by ship on Thursday from Lampedusa, a tiny island off the coast of Italy.

Officials say overcrowding has created unhygienic conditions on Lampedusa.

Foreign Minister Franco Frattini has complained about the handling of the crisis by the EU and France.

The Il Giornale newspaper says Rome intends to repatriate 100 Tunisians every day.

Italy says about 20,000 migrants have arrived on its shores - mostly on Lampedusa - in the past three months, aboard overcrowded boats from Tunisia and Libya.

President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia was toppled by an uprising in January and the unrest there is continuing.