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Europe

Brussels deploys team to help Italy with immigration pressure

The European Union is sending a team of border experts to Italy to authorities overwhelmed by a flood of migrants from Tunisia. Rome says more than 5,000 people have landed on the tiny southern island of Lampedusa.

People on a boat off Lampedusa

Thousands of Tunisian migrants arrived at Lampedusa

The EU's border control agency, Frontex, will deploy a team to Italy on Sunday to assist Italian authorities dealing with new arrivals on their territory - especially on the southern island of Lampedusa.

The 27-member bloc said on Saturday that it would give Italy the help it needed to deal with a tide of illegal migrants from North Africa.

Announcing the mission known as "Hermes," EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said it represented "a clear signal of European solidarity between member states."

Hermes 2011

The influx was triggered by an uprising of pro-democracy campaigners that toppled Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. The teams taking part will include border experts from other EU member states and will be coordinated by Frontex. The effort will be backed by aircraft and patrol boats.

"In the framework of the Hermes mission, experts from participating member states will be deployed, together with aerial and naval means, to assist the Italian authorities,” said Malmstrom.

"Human and technical resources could be increased according to future needs," she said.

EU officials said the mission would involve about 30 people, a plane and a number of ships.

Author: Richard Connor (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

Editor: Sean Sinico

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