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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid