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Italy declares Lampedusa an 'unsafe port'

Lampedusa has been declared an unsafe port by the Italian authorities, a decision which could have implications for Malta since international law says that people rescued at sea must be taken to the nearest safe port.

The Italian government's decision was taken in the wake of violent disturbances (see video) which saw Tunisian migrants set fire and damage the island's reception centre and other buildings.

The Italian government said newly intercepted or rescued migrants will be taken to Sicily.

Most of the 1200 migrants who were on Lampedusa have been moved and some 700 have been held on ships in Palermo, Sicily, for the past three days.

Interior Minister Roberto Maroni said the migrants in Palermo will all be repatriated within a few days. A further 600 Tunisians were repatriated last week.

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