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Revolution's Refugees

A tiny Italian island has found itself at the forefront of the exodus of people from the unrest in Tunisia, and it’s causing renewed friction over Italy’s immigration policy.

Lampedusa is closer to the African coast than to mainland Italy and has recently seen its population of 5,000 Italians double, as refugees pour in from north Africa.

They tell reporter Zoé de Bussière that risking their lives to escape on packed boats is better than staying amidst the upheaval in Tunisia.

While many are being moved to the Italian mainland to be processed, the Italians on Lampedusa say their island is being overwhelmed, and their reputation as a tourist destination is in jeopardy.

WATCH - See Zoé's report in a special edition of Dateline presented from Italy by Yalda Hakim.

WORLD NEWS AUSTRALIA - Get the latest on the unrest in North Africa and the Middle East from SBS's World News Australia.

INSIGHT - Watch SBS's Insight discussion program on the situation in the Middle East and North Africa, which asked if people there will ultimately achieve what they want. Click to find out more.

INTERACTIVE - Use our interactive feature for more analysis on the political turmoil in the region.

REPLAY - Dateline's Amos Roberts reported on Africans trying to reach Lampedusa in July 2009, amid widespread hostility towards immigrants in Italy. Click to replay The Italian Solution.

Photo (boat): Getty

On air: 13th March 2011

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