Immigrants injured in Italy detention center fire

Illegal immigrants and asylum-seekers set fire to part of their detention centre on the southern Italian island of Lampedusa, police said.

Immigrants injured in Italy detention center fire
Illegal immigrants and asylum-seekers set fire to part of their detention centre on the southern Italian island of Lampedusa on Wednesday, police said.

The United Nations criticised the centre last month and expressed concern about conditions there. Tensions have been rising at the center since the beginning of this year because what had been a temporary, transitory center for illegal immigrants has been converted into a detention and expulsion center, UNHCR spokeswoman Laura Boldrini said by telephone from Rome.

Fourteen people were being treated for smoke inhalation but no one was seriously injured, Italian media reported.

Police said many of the immigrants involved in the unreast were from Tunisia.
It was the latest outbreak of unrest at the newly named Centre for Identification and Expulsion, which Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's conservative government hopes will speed deportations of illegal immigrants.
"There were certainly difficult moments," police chief Girolamo di Fazio told Italian television, adding migrants hurled "objects" at police trying to restrain them.

"Then they set fire to one of the pavilions, which suffered serious damage."

Lampedusa's Mayor Dino De Rubeis said flames reached a height of 10 metres and police used tear gas to end the riot.

"This is the fault of the government ... the immigrants are exasperated," De Rubeis told Italy's ANSA news agency.

Originally a temporary stop for people waiting for transfer to other centres in Italy, the camp's role has changed this year. Tough new immigration rules mean they are now kept in Lampedusa until being granted asylum or expelled.

Last month more than 1,000 would-be immigrants broke out of the centre and marched to the town hall in protest at their conditions.

Most migrants reaching Italy by sea last year applied for asylum, of whom half got refugee status or protection on other humanitarian grounds, the United Nations refugee agency says.

Reuters
Last Mod: 19 Şubat 2009, 14:12
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