News / Europe

Italian Migrant Center Cleared After Protests

Migrants wait to board a ferry boat from the port of Lampedusa, for Sicily, southern Italy, where they will be sent to other camps based on their legal status, Oct. 7, 2013.
Migrants wait to board a ferry boat from the port of Lampedusa, for Sicily, southern Italy, where they will be sent to other camps based on their legal status, Oct. 7, 2013.
Reuters
Italian authorities began clearing a migrant reception center on the island of Lampedusa on Tuesday after a row over harsh living conditions that prompted detainees to sew their lips together in protest.
 
The facility, originally intended to house up to 850 migrants for up to 48 hours before transfer to other centers, has been steadily transformed into a long-term refugee camp where detainees are housed in overcrowded, unsanitary conditions, prompting domestic and international criticism.
 
Deputy Interior Minister Filippo Bubbico told the daily Avvenire newspaper that 200 migrants would be transferred to other centers. Only 17 individuals, still caught up in registration processes that require their identities be established before they are moved, would remain, he said.
 
Khalid Chaouki, a deputy of the center-left Democratic Party who went to the island to demand action, announced on his Facebook page that transfers had started with two planes chartered to take migrants off the island.
 
"We should finally manage to free this center up by today," he wrote.
 
Lampedusa, midway between Sicily and Tunisia, has been the center of a chronic migration crisis which has worsened this year due to turbulence in the Middle East and Africa and the civil war in Syria.
 
Tens of thousands of desperate immigrants, most fleeing poverty and upheaval in search of a better life in Europe have braved the hazardous sea crossing from North Africa to Lampedusa. Thousands have died in the attempt, including hundreds who drowned when two overloaded boats sank in October.
 
The plight of the migrants left in Italy's reception centers, starved of resources in the economic crisis, was highlighted last week by a video which showed people in another center left standing naked in the cold while they were sprayed for scabies.
 
Last week nine North African migrants stitched their lips together to protest against the conditions they were forced to live in and to demand their release.
 
Unacceptable
 
The UNHCR last week described conditions in the Lampedusa reception center as "unacceptable" and urged the Italian government to take urgent steps to remedy the situation which has persisted for many years.
 
Criticism of the center has been a severe embarrassment to Italy, which has generally prided itself on the efforts its coast guard and navy have made to rescue thousands of migrants at risk of drowning in flimsy vessels.
 
At the request of the interior ministry, the Italian Red Cross sent eight staff to Lampedusa on Tuesday to boost its presence on the island following calls for it to take over management of the immigration center.
 
According to Frontex, the European Union's border agency, more than 10,000 migrants arrived by sea in southern Italy last year, most from Eritrea, Tunisia and Somalia and the numbers have risen sharply this year as thousands have fled from the fighting in Syria. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said 7,800 migrants and asylum seekers arrived in Italy in the first half of the year alone.
 
The scandal at the migrant reception center has fed into a wider debate over immigration in Italy and Prime Minister Enrico Letta said this week that his government would move to overhaul a law against clandestine immigration blamed by some for encouraging abuses against migrants.
 
He said he also favored moves to make it easier for the children of immigrants to gain Italian citizenship.

You May Like

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid