The Invasion of Lampedusa
International investigative documentary series.
How a crisis on a tiny island in the middle of the Mediterranean is changing the face of immigration in Europe. This spring, in the wake of the uprisings across the Arab world, the Italian island of Lampedusa, just 70 miles from the African coast, has seen the arrival of over 40,000 migrants from Tunisia and Libya.
This programme charts how, within weeks, its small migrant reception centre is overflowing, and the island's tourist economy faces meltdown. The islanders openly revolt, blockading the small port and riot in the streets. Local mayor Bernadino de Rubeis makes desperate attempts to keep everyone calm, with limited results.
Only the arrival of beleaguered president Silvio Berlusconi seems to solve the problem, but his solutions are short-lived - weeks later, thousands more Libyans are arriving seeking asylum, prompting panic in Brussels, the closing of European borders and the possible collapse of the EU's celebrated Schengen Agreement.