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The European Commission threatened Italy with legal action on Wednesday in reaction to images of young Africans being sprayed for scabies in a detention centre in Lampedusa.

Captured on a mobile phone, the images of the naked migrants remind Europe of what some call a shameful situation for migrants on its periphery.

EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malstrom called the images appalling, saying Italy may have breached EU rules for treating asylum seekers. According to her spokesperson, an inquiry is already underway in Italy and the Commission is waiting to find out who is responsible.

Southern European countries have been asking EU member states for months for a fairer spread of the burden when dealing with migrants. The matter is likely to be brought up at an EU summit later this week, including Commission proposals to change EU asylum rules.

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