Govt terminates contract for Lampedusa centre

Storm after video showed migrants sprayed with disinfectant

(updates previous) (ANSA) - Brussels, December 19 - Interior Minister and Deputy Premier Angelino Alfano said Thursday that the Italian government "has decided to terminate the contract" with the cooperative running the Lampedusa migrant centre. An international storm was caused this week by a video showing naked migrants at the centre being sprayed with disinfectants in an open-air courtyard in the cold of winter. Alfano said the management of the centre on the Italian island between Tunisia and Sicilia, where tens of thousands of migrants make first contact in Europe after the hazardous crossing over the Mediterranean from North Africa every year, was likely to be assigned to the International Red Cross. On Wednesday the European Commission opened an inquiry into the affair and threatened to halt the 30 million euros the EU has earmarked for immigrant aid to Italy. The head of Lampedusa Accoglienza, the cooperative that ran the island's reception centre, said Wednesday that the migrants decided to strip off of their own free will during a procedure to eliminate parasites that cause scabies. "The treatment we were doing, performed under the terms of a protocol, was taking an hour and a half and, at a certain point, some of the immigrants ran out of patience and took off their clothes," Galipò told Radio Città Futura. The author of the footage, an unidentified Syrian man who filmed it with his cell phone, said the roughly 700 people at the center were being "treated like animals". "Men and women undergo the same humiliation every three days to cure scabies, which we caught since we came to the detention center," he told Italian television. On Thursday, House Speaker Laura Boldrini said the images were "worse than a drop in Italian gross domestic product (GDP)". "For three days all of Europe and the Mediterranean have been watching those unacceptable images which strike at the honor of our country," she added.