Rome (CNN)A destination for the destitute, Sicily is the "promised land" for thousands of migrants and refugees making the desperate journey from North Africa to Europe's Mediterranean coast. More than 10,000 people have arrived from Libya since last weekend alone, according to the Italian Coast Guard.
Stories of death at sea and unimaginable suffering are nothing new in the waters between North Africa and Italy; boat people have been arriving on Italy's islands for more than a decade.
But what makes the current influx different is the increase in numbers and the absence of control from the ports of embarkation, specifically those in Libya, because when Moammar Gadhafi was in control, he also controlled the flow of migrant ships.
In 2008, the-then Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Gadhafi signed an historic friendship agreement in which Italy promised to invest $5 billion in Libyan infrastructure and Gadhafi promised to close what he described as a "spigot" of migrants. During a three-day state visit to Italy in August 2010, he famously threatened to "turn Europe black" if Libya did not enjoy cordial relations with the European Union.