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“Fast deterioration of the situation of ‘boat people’ in Lampedusa must be halted," according to PACE Committee Chair

Strasbourg, 20.02.2009 - "The fast deterioration of the situation of ‘boat people’ in Lampedusa must be halted immediately", said Mrs Corien Jonker, Chair of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Population of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE), talking on the margins of a seminar on migration organised by the French Red Cross in collaboration with the Council of Europe.

"We are deeply concerned by the  overcrowding and worsening conditions in the identification and expulsion centre dealing with irregular migrants and asylum seekers in Lampedusa. This has lead to violent confrontations between the detainees and the law enforcement bodies and has now resulted in over 60 wounded persons following Wednesday's fire in the centre. I urge the Italian authorities to return to the practice of forwarding these ‘boat people’ to other parts of Italy for processing in order to diminish the overcrowding  in Lampedusa. It cannot be expected that the small island can cope with more than 30,000 people arriving annually on its shores.”

Mrs Jonker urged Italy to tackle the problems of Lampedusa and she also called on Europe to remind Italy to abide by its agreed European commitments in treating migrants in a humanitarian fashion with proper systems of reception, resettlement and - where appropriate - return.