Migrants flee Tunisia as country marks one month since uprising
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As Tunisia on Monday marked a month since the ousting of its president, the interim government sent security forces to coastal areas to stop a Europe-bound exodus of people fleeing poverty.
Some 5,000 undocumented migrants, many of them Tunisians, have flooded into the Italian island of Lampedusa, near Sicily, where the government has declared a humanitarian emergency.
Sabrina Castelfranco, correspondent Sidi Bouzi, Tunisia
Correspondent Sabina Castelfranco is in the Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzi. She says Tunisians are fleeing the instability in their own country.
"There are many people who don't have a job, they're looking for a better future." she says. "They're crossing the sea because they hope that in Italy they will find something better...although people are hopeful they are unsure of what is going to happen next."
Italy appealed for urgent EU aid to halt the wave of immigrants, many of whom remain on the island despite an airlift to move them to mainland Italy.
In another blow to the interim government, Foreign Minister Ahmed Ounaies resigned Sunday after just two weeks in the job.
His departure comes just a day before a visit by European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
On the agenda are the first democratic reforms since the removal of president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
Immigration will also likely be a top issue in talks between Ashton and Tunisian Prime
Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi.
Tunisian authorities have also arrested between 1,000 and 1,500 would-be immigrants in recent days, according to the Effadeh daily newspaper.
But Tunisian officials slammed a suggestion by Rome that Italian police could be sent to the country to stem the flow of illegals.
On Monday Tunisia said it was ready to cooperate with European governments, but will not tolerate interference in its internal affairs.
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