Migrants at Lampedusa holding centre protest at conditions

UNHCR denounces 'extreme deterioration' of situation

Migrants at Lampedusa holding centre protest at conditions

(see related stories) Lampedusa, October 8 - Exasperated migrants held at a reception centre on the Italian island of Lampedusa protested at their conditions on Tuesday. Migrants threw mattresses outside and tried to block departing buses after cramped conditions were rendered more difficult by several days of rain. "We are tired of living this way, like animals," they said. Security forces present inside the centre kept the chaos from escalating further, though tension remained high. Meanwhile, the UNHCR's representative in Italy blasted deteriorating conditions at the centre, and called for immediate action, not just for the 155 survivors of last week's shipwreck in which over 300 are feared dead, but for all the migrants kept there who fled wars and persecution in search of safety. "The extreme situation at the center has deteriorated, with entire families forced into the open for three days in the rain in a row, it is absolutely unacceptable," wrote Lauren Jolles, the UNHCR representative in Italy. Jolles made three demands - that renovation begin immediately to restore the centre to its original 850-person capacity, that migrants get transferred to other centres within 48 hours of arrival, and the network of migrant centres across Italy be strengthened. The 850-person migrant centre on Lampedusa has been reduced to a 250-person capacity since a 2011 fire destroyed part of the facility.

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