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Africa

Berlusconi visits Lampedusa as migrants continue to flood in

media Migrants fleeing violence in north Africa arrive by boat at the Italian … Reuters/Antonio Parrinello

Boats full of refugees from Libya continued to arrive on Italy's Lampedusa island on Saturday, as Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi paid a visit. Berlusconi has promised to clear the island of migrants in record time, but boatloads of exhausted refugees are still arriving daily.

Witnesses say four boatloads of migrants docked in Lampedusa on Saturday afternoon, after more than 500 arrived from Libya on Friday night.

Other boats have begun arriving in Malta. On Friday more than 170 African refugees landed there after they'd been told that Italy could not provide assistance and were turned away. In total, more than 1,000 migrants have now arrived on the island.

And back in Libya, many refugees are still looking for an escape route.

Amar Joda, a coordinator for the Red Cross in Benghazi, told RFI that people from all over Africa – including Libyans, Chadians, Eritreans, Nigerian and Ghanaians – are currently in camps in the rebel-controlled city.

They stay there until the International Organisation for Migration can help them get to the Egyptian border.

“The refugee camp was set up on 20 February and we’ve already evacuated 18,000 people just from Chad,” Joda says.

At first refugees were evacuated by sea but now they’re taken to the Egyptian border by bus, he adds.

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