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EU threatens to stop support to Italy over migrant treatment

Malmstrom says inquiry opened over hosing-down video

18 December, 11:40
EU threatens to stop support to Italy over migrant treatment (ANSA) - Brussels, December 18 - Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said Wednesday that the European Commission has opened an inquiry after a video showed migrants stripping outdoors before being hosed them down with disinfectants at a reception centre on the Italian island of Lampedusa. She also threatened to stop EU support for Italy in dealing with the thousands of migrants who arrive every year on the island between Tunisia and Sicily.

Malmstrom said that the images in the video, shot with a cell phone by a Syrian migrant and aired by Italian State broadcaster Rai on Monday night, were "appalling and unacceptable".

"The EU has already started an inquiry," she added. "We will not hesitate to open an infraction procedure to ensure that European standards are being respected. "We will contact the Italian authorities to have more information about these events and ask them to shed full light on what happened".

The commissioner described the conditions at several migrant reception centres in Italy, including the Lampedusa one, as "dreadful".

"Our assistance and support to the Italian authorities in managing migrant flows can only continue if the country guarantees humane, dignified conditions in the reception of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees". Cono Galipò, the chief executive of the Lampedusa Accoglienza cooperative that runs 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.

"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.

"They clearly set up what can be seen".

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