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Lampedusa migrants airlifted to Palermo, protesting MP says

Chaouki barricaded himself in holding center on Sunday

24 December, 11:38
Lampedusa migrants airlifted to Palermo, protesting MP says (ANSA) - Palermo, December 24 - Italian centre-left MP Khalid Chaouki on Tuesday said 100 of 219 refugees being held at a controversial migrant holding centre on the island of Lampedusa are being flown to the Sicilian city of Palermo.

A Democratic Party (PD) member of the Italian Lower House, Chaouki on Sunday barricaded himself inside the so-called First Hosting Centre (CPA) to protest conditions there.

Every year, tens of thousands of migrants make first contact with Europe on the Italian island between Tunisia and Sicily after the hazardous crossing over the Mediterranean from North Africa.

The facility is at the centre of an international storm after a video showing naked migrants being sprayed with disinfectant was broadcast last week.

A second group of refugees are being airlifted out later on Tuesday, including survivors from a migrant-boat wreck in October in which over 360 people died, Chaouki said.

''Seven survivors of the October 3 shipwreck are being left behind, pending a court authorization,'' Chaouki added. Chaouki on Sunday issued the government an ultimatum, stating that he would not leave until the overcrowded facility lives up to its obligations as a transitory centre.

''I am not moving until the centre returns to the role it was assigned by international treaties - a temporary centre, where stays cannot exceed 96 hours,'' Chaouki went on.

Chaouki's demonstration began the same day news broke of 10 immigrants who sewed their mouths shut with needle and thread to protest their continued confinement in a secondary detention centre in a western suburb of Rome.