Time has just published my story on Italy’s migration crisis.
It’s no coincidence that the first boats full of migrants arrived at the tiny southern Italian island of Lampedusa just two days after a revolution overthrew Tunisia’s strongman Zine el Abidine Ben Ali. That’s about how long it takes for a rickety, overloaded ship to cross that stretch of the Mediterranean Sea.
The arrivals were few at first — small boats of a dozen or so people. But in recent days, as clenched-fist stability in Tunisia gave way to democracy and then near anarchy, the ships became larger, more crowded and more numerous. According to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), some 5,700 Tunisians have landed in Lampedusa since Jan. 16 — 5,000 of them in the past five days — leaving Italian authorities scrambling to accommodate what they describe as an exodus of “biblical proportions.”
Read the rest.