Italy will send back illegal invaders who arrive on its shores starting from Tuesday, that country’s interior ministry has announced.
The decision came after an unexpected wave of invaders around Christmas overwhelmed its holding centres.
Thirty eight Egyptians will be flown to Cairo on Tuesday, the first group to be deported under the new plan announced by Italy’s government which has made cracking down on illegal immigration a top priority since coming to power in May.
Interior Minister Roberto Maroni, a member of the anti-immigration Northern League, said Italy faced an emergency after some 2,000 invaders arrived on the southern island of Lampedusa since Christmas.
“I have arranged for the activation of a centre suitable for identification and expulsion,” Maroni told Italian radio.
Italy’s long shoreline and proximity to Africa makes it a popular invasion point into Europe for thousands of Africans, fleeing their own countries which are self-created wrecks. They sail in rickety, crowded boats each year, many perishing along the way.
The number of invaders who have arrived on Italian shores nearly doubled in the first seven months of the year, prompting Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s government to declare a nationwide state of emergency in July.