Lampedusa immigrant reception center, has been operating since 1998, when the Italian island of Lampedusa became a primary European entry point for immigrants from Africa. The reception center's capacity of 801 people has been greatly exceeded by numerous boat people arriving from various parts of Africa. Since the early 2000s, Lampedusa has become a prime transit point for illegal immigrants from Africa, the Middle East and Asia wanting to enter Europe.
In 2011 many immigrants came to Lampedusa during the rebellions in Tunisia and Libya. By May 2011, more than 35,000 immigrants had arrived on the island from Tunisia and Libya. By the end of August, 48,000 had arrived. Most were young males in their 20s and 30s. The situation has caused division within the EU, the French government regarding most of the arrivals as economic migrants rather than refugees in fear of persecution. The Libyan ambassador to Italy stated that Gaddafi controlled illegal immigration to meet his goals- "he wanted to turn Lampedusa black with Africans".
In October 2013, the center accommodated the survivors of the shipwreck of a boat carrying migrants from Eritrea, Somalia and elsewhere, which capsized offshore, resulting in at least 300 deaths. The press referred to that incident as the "Lampedusa boat disaster".
In 2014, 170,100 migrants arrived in Italy by sea, a 296% increase compared to 2013. 141,484 of the travelers ferried over from Libya. Most of the migrants had come from Syria, Eritrea and various countries in West Africa. Source: Wkipedia