Ahmed, 17, the son of an octopus fisherman, had put his hand through a window the night before because his parents wouldn’t let him pilot a boat to Lampedusa – an Italian island that lies nearer the African coast than mainland Italy and has attracted a surge in migrant arrivals.
“I drive the boat with my dad, so why not?” Ahmed said. “When I am here, I am frustrated, I am angry, I want to leave.” Young men with some knowledge of the sea – like Ahmed – have come to play an important role in the recent exodus. They pilot small boats, which are usually destined for fishing, on a one-way journey to Italy, unlike the boats in previous years that would return to Tunisia after delivering larger groups of up to 100 passengers.
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