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President slams treatment of migrants in Lampedusa centre

Says he hopes incident doesn't cast dark shadow over Italy

19 December, 20:18
President slams treatment of migrants in Lampedusa centre (ANSA) - Rome, December 19 - Italian President Giorgio Napolitano said the treatment of migrants in an emergency assistance centre in the Southern Italian island of Lampedusa, which hit international headlines this week for the appalling way they were being looked after, was unacceptable. Napolitano said he hoped the incident would not "cast a dark shadow and discredit the humanitarian and solidarity-based commitments of our nation".

He was speaking at an annual conference held with Italy's top ambassadors and organized by the Italian foreign ministry. Earlier in the day Interior Minister and Deputy Premier Angelino Alfano said 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 Sicily, 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.