European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso’s trip to the Italian island of Lampedusa began with boos and shouts of ‘shame’ and ‘murderers’ from some of the residents.
Barroso, EU Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom, Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta and Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano made a short visit to Lampedusa’s refugee centre, before being shown a hangar where some of the victims’ bodies were being kept. Some 270 people were killed in last week’s tragedy.
“That image of hundreds of coffins will never get out of my mind. coffins of babies, coffins with a mother and a child that was born just at that moment,” Barroso told reporters at a press conference on the island.
Immigration and asylum will be on the agenda at the next EU council at the end of the month.
Letta is calling all EU member states to find a solution: “Italy will do everything it can – but it’s a European tragedy which the EU needs to take on and tackle.”
For some people living on the island, these are just more words.
“What are they coming here for? To see that everyone is dead? It’s completely wrong for them to come here!” said one man.
Lampedusa resident Salvatore Ragonetti said: “I don’t care whether Barroso comes here or not.”
The refugee centre on Lampedusa is supposed to hold 250 people – there are over 1,000 staying there at the moment, including 155 survivors of last week’s disaster in the Mediterranean.