Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi visited Lampedusa this afternoon and said that all 6000 migrants now on the island would be moved to new locations within Italy, in Sicily and elsewhere, within 48-60 hours. He indicated that a navy ship and multiple civilian ferries would be used to transport the migrants. He promised a massive clean-up operation and beautification programme for the island, announced there would be a tax holiday for island residents, said Lampedusa would be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, and said that he had just purchased a personal home on Lampedusa.
Berlusconi said new unspecified measures were being taken to prevent new migrant arrivals. He seemed to say that some vessels that could be used for the transport of migrants from Tunisia have been purchased by Italy (or by him?). (“Abbiamo attuato anche misure imprenditoriali. Ve ne diro’ una variopinta: abbiamo comprato pescherecci affinche’ non possano essere utilizzati per le traversate.” “We have also implemented business measures. I will tell you [something] colorful: we bought vessels so they can not be used for the crossings.”)
There has been a lull in migrant arrivals to the island; no new boats from Tunisia or Libya arrived overnight.