Europe

Italy probes treatment of Lampedusa migrants 'forced to strip'

  • 18 December 2013
  • From the section Europe

Italy has launched an inquiry into the treatment of migrants at a reception centre on the island of Lampedusa.

Footage filmed secretly on a mobile phone appears to show detainees being forced to strip naked in mixed company while a worker hoses them down.

The man who took the video - an unnamed Syrian refugee - says the migrants are being treated like "animals".

The camp houses people from Africa and the Middle East who make the dangerous crossing to Italy by boat.

The flow of migrants trying to reach the EU has been fuelled by civil war in Syria and unrest in Egypt and other Arab and African countries.

'Ashamed'

The images, which were broadcast on state television, show migrants queuing up in a crowded, open-air courtyard.

One after another, in cold, winter conditions, they have to strip completely naked.

The man who filmed the scene says this is apparently an effort to combat the skin condition, scabies, and that both men and women have to go through it every few days.

The mayor of Lampedusa, Giusi Nicolini, said the video made the centre look like a "concentration camp" and that Italy as a whole should be "ashamed".

The speaker of parliament, Laura Boldrini, said the treatment the migrants were enduring was "unworthy of a civilised country".

She pointed out that some of the migrants at the centre were survivors of one of the worst boat disasters off Europe in living memory.

A total of 366 people - mostly from Eritrea - died in October when the boat carrying them sank off the shores of Lampedusa.

On Tuesday, the Italian navy rescued 110 mostly African men from an overcrowded dinghy off Lampedusa. A corpse was also recovered from on board.

The migrants were from Ghana, Mali, Togo and Gambia and Pakistan, the navy said in a statement, They were taken to a facility in Sicily.