19 Dec 2013

EU investigating Lampedusa migrant centre

5:57 am on 19 December 2013

The European Union is investigating a reception centre for immigrants on the Italian island of Lampedusa.

Mobile phone footage has been broadcast on state television in Italy showing male and female detainees having to strip naked in public to be sprayed with water.

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

The BBC reports the camp houses people from Africa and the Middle East who make the 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.

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

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

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.

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