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December 1, 2021

Italy investigates apparent ‘hosing down’ of migrants on Lampedusa

Forced to strip naked, outside and in full view of other migrants, a man is then hosed down. Others line up in a crowded courtyard to follow. This is the humiliating treatment apparently meted out to migrants at a detention center on Italy’s Lampedusa island, captured in secretly filmed cellphone footage and aired on Italian state TV channel RAI, CNN reports.
The images, purportedly filmed by a migrant who spent two months at the center, have sparked outrage in Italy and Europe.
Italian media reports cite the group running the detention center as saying the step was a health precaution to prevent the spread of scabies, a contagious skin condition. The group reportedly said the migrants were taken to an “isolated location” and individually sprayed with a medical product. CNN has not yet been able to reach representatives for comment.
The Italian Interior Ministry ordered an inquiry Tuesday and said it expected a report from the local authorities within 24 hours.
The Speaker for Italy’s lower house of Parliament, Laura Boldrini, said in a post on the body’s Facebook page that the reported treatment of migrants was “degrading” and “not worthy of a civilized country.”
“Those images cannot leave us indifferent,” said Boldrini, who was the spokeswoman for several years for the U.N. refugee agency in Rome. She said efforts would be made to find those responsible and hold them accountable.
EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malstrom condemned the images from Lampedusa as “appalling and unacceptable,” and said the European Commission would ask the Italian authorities to “shed full light” over what had happened.
“We have already started investigations on the deplorable conditions in many Italian detention centers, including Lampedusa, and we will not hesitate to launch an infringement procedure to make sure EU standards and obligations are fully respected,” she said in a statement Wednesday.
“Our assistance and support to the Italian authorities in managing migratory flows can only be continued if the country guarantees humane and dignified reception conditions to migrants, asylum seekers and refugees.”
Lampedusa made global headlines when more than 300 African migrants died after their ship sank off its shores on October 3. Days later, another 34 people died when their boat capsized.

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