Italy migrant tragedy unveils plight of survivors

Sat Oct 5, 2013 7:47pm EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Steve Scherer

LAMPEDUSA, Italy (Reuters) - The survivors of a shipwreck off Sicily two days ago live in terrible conditions and face criminal prosecution, a delegation of lawmakers and officials said on Saturday as they called for policy changes at home and in the European Union.

Rough seas again blocked efforts to recover the bodies trapped inside a boat that sank on Thursday, killing an estimated 300 Eritrean and Somali men, women and children who were seeking a better life in Europe.

Rescue teams expect to find more than 100 others in and around the wreck, submerged in 47 meters of water less than a kilometer (0.6 miles) from the shore of the southern island of Lampedusa.

Now the plight of the 155 survivors of one of the worst disasters in Europe's immigration crisis is putting a spotlight on the shortcomings of the centers that house newly-arrived migrants, and on the laws that are aimed at keeping them away.

"We have the duty to tell the Italian government and the EU that their structures and policies are not only inadequate, but they're criminal," said Rosario Crocetta, Sicily's regional governor, after visiting Lampedusa's immigration center with the mayor and a group of lawmakers.

The center, which is equipped to house 250 people, is now packed with more than 1,000.

Reporters and TV cameras are kept out, but clearly seen through the front gate were families with children camping under a stand of shade trees, with foam mattresses for beds and clothing drying on lines stretched between the trunks.

"It's indecent," said Tommaso Curro, a lower house deputy for the 5-Star Movement.   Continued...

A migrant leaves the immigration centre through a fence on the southern Italian island of Lampedusa October 5, 2013. REUTERS/Antonio Parrinello