TUNIS - The Tunisian authorities have sent reinforcements to stem the flow of illegal immigrants from the Tunisian coast to Europe, told AFP on Sunday a government source as thousands have landed on the Italian island of Lampedusa in recent days.
"The Marine guard force are working day and night to stop this flow. They have arrested many individuals trying to cross borders. Reinforcements were sent," he said on condition of anonymity that source refused to say what kind forces were sent, how many and where.
"We go through extraordinary times and the forces go to great lengths to try to stop the flow," she said adding that this "phenomenon (was) not new and not all about Tunisia".
According to security sources quoted Sunday by the daily Effadah (The Morning), the authorities arrested in recent days from 1000 to 1500 candidates for emigration.
Some 5,000 illegal immigrants arrived on Lampedusa in five days, located 138 km from the Tunisian coast, mostly Tunisians saying he fled a "nation adrift." One who survived a shipwreck, told AFP he had gone along with hundreds of young people to "find a job in Europe."
Rome, which fears a humanitarian crisis, has already called for the deployment of a Frontex mission to patrol the coast of Tunisia and intends to request the deployment of police in this country.
The Tunisian official declined to comment on the possible dispatch of Italian policemen in Tunisia.