UN urges Italy to take steps over bad migrants situation
The U.N. refugee agency criticized that Italy about humanitarian conditions at a sea-rescue centre crammed with migrants.
The U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) criticized that Italy on Friday about humanitarian conditions at a sea-rescue centre crammed with migrants on the southern Italian island of Lampedusa.
Nearly 2,000 boat people, including asylum seekers, are sheltering at a site built as temporary accommodation for 850, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said in a statement.
"We urge the Italian authorities to take all necessary steps to address the difficult humanitarian situation now unfolding in Lampedusa," Pirkko Kourula, director of the UNHCR in Europe said in a statement.
Since Italy changed its rules at the beginning of 2009, all those rescued from the sea -- many of whom are from Somalia and Eritrea -- have been forced to remain in Lampedusa until decisions are made on their asylum bids.
Hundreds of people are now sleeping outdoors under plastic sheeting on the small island, and the overcrowding has made it difficult for Italian authorities, the UNHCR and other groups to operate, the U.N. agency said.
About 75 percent of the migrants who reached Italy by sea last year applied for asylum, and of that group about 50 percent were granted refugee status or protection on other humanitarian grounds, the UNHCR said.
Reuters Last Mod: 24 Ocak 2009, 11:50