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Migrants pour onto Lampedusa before pope's visit

(By Kate Carlisle) (ANSA) - Rome, July 3 - The day after the Vatican announced that Pope Francis he would be visiting the island of Lampedusa, a main point of entry for immigrants seeking to reach Italy, a rash of arrivals has the country scrambling to deal with the latest wave of landings on the its shores. Immigration from Northern...
Migrants pour onto Lampedusa before pope's visit
(By Kate Carlisle) (ANSA) - Rome, July 3 - The day after the Vatican announced that Pope Francis he would be visiting the island of Lampedusa, a main point of entry for immigrants seeking to reach Italy, a rash of arrivals has the country scrambling to deal with the latest wave of landings on the its shores. Immigration from Northern Africa picks up in summer months as sea conditions improve, but many die while attempting the voyage, often in crammed and unsafe boats. In a dramatic incident in June, seven migrants drowned as they attempted to cling to a tuna cage dragged by a Tunisian fishing boat south of Malta. During the pope's official visit to the island on July 8, he plans to place a commemorative wreath in the waters off the island in the memories of immigrants who perished trying to reach land. "The pope has been deeply touched by the recent sinking of a boat carrying migrants from Africa, the last in a series of similar tragedies," said a statement from the Vatican press office. Early Wednesday morning a ship from the Italian Navy and two from the Coast Guard rescued a raft with roughly 80 people on board that was adrift 80 miles off the coast of Lampedusa. First reports feared that some of the passengers had died during the journey, but all were found in good condition. Of the passengers, 10 are women, four of whom are pregnant, the Coast Guard said. During another landing around 3 am, 227 people were rescued from a boat 70 miles off Lampedusa's coast. In the southern region of Calabria, 28 Iraqi and Pakistani migrants were found wandering near the Ciro' Marina in a "disoriented state," police said.
Also in Calabria, a boat with 64 immigrants landed at Punta Stilo. All have been taken to temporary detention centers. During Pope Francis' visit to Lampedusa on Monday, he is scheduled to celebrate a mass at an immigration center that has been a constant source of overcrowding.
Italy has three kinds of so-called temporary centers for immigrants in the country without authorization - Centers for Identification and Deportation (CIE), Centers for Asylum Seekers (CARA) and Acceptance Centers (CDA). Many have come under fire by human rights groups as being unsafe and more like prisons than assistance centers. In a violent incident overnight Tuesday, a 26-year-old Kurdish asylum seeker was killed in a detention center for immigrants in the southern city of Bari after a fight broke out among detainees, authorities said. Police said that the man was found dead when they arrived on the scene after being called by workers at the center and that he had knife wounds and numerous lesions on his body. In a Vatican Radio interview, the pastor Stefano Nastasi of Lampedusa's St.
Gerlando parish said that he wanted the pope to to witness first-hand the immigration challenges in the area.
Francis "intends to pray for those who lost their lives at sea, visit the survivors and refugees, and to encourage the inhabitants of the island to take care of these brothers and sisters in dire need," the Vatican said.

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