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Migrant treatment at Lampedusa 'degrading and inhumane'

House Speaker Boldrini speaks out after TV news report

17 December, 17:30
Migrant treatment at Lampedusa 'degrading and inhumane'

(ANSA) - Rome, December 17 - Italian House Speaker Laura Boldrini on Tuesday condemned what she called ''degrading treatment'' of asylum seekers at a migrant detention center on Lampedusa island.

Her comments came after the TG2 evening newscast on State broadcaster Rai on Monday night aired footage shot with a cell phone by a Syrian detainee, showing dozens of men and women being forced to strip publicly outdoors in the winter weather before guards hosed them down with disinfectants.

"We are being treated like animals," the author of the footage told TG2. "Men and women undergo the same humiliation every three days to cure scabies, which we caught since we came to the detention center''.

Scabies is a contagious skin disease caused by mites.

Critics of Italy's migrant detention centers say they are being run like sub-standard prisons.

An October investigative report on the Lampedusa holding center by L'Espresso news magazine documented people being made to eat and sleep on the ground, covered only with paper blankets in the freezing weather, children catching head lice, and stray dogs being allowed to wander about, urinating on the refugees' clothes and luggage.

The Lampedusa center is run by a consortium called Lampedusa Accoglienza, (Lampedusa Welcome) which belongs to the Gruppo Sisifo Group, which in turn holds various Lega Coop companies. The state reportedly pays Lampedusa Accoglienza 21,000 euros a day to care for the more than 700 detainees in the center.

''The way immigrants are being treated at the Lampedusa holding center as documented by TG2 last night is unworthy of a civilized country'', Boldrini said. ''Even more so, because these people survived the tragic October shipwrecks (in which more than 300 refugees perished at sea). I thank TG2: information helps us not to resign ourselves to living with the ignominies of our time''.

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