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Italy: Syrian refugees on hunger strike at Lampedusa immigration centre

Italy: Syrian refugees on hunger strike at Lampedusa immigration centre
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A group of Syrian refugees has begun a hunger strike at the immigration reception centre on the Italian island of Lampedusa.

For those migrants who make the perilous crossing from Africa alive, the centre is the end of one journey, but the beginning of another. Many are frustrated that they are not being processed quickly enough to continue their route through Europe.

One Syrian refugee who didn’t want to be identified for fear of reprisals in his home country said Syrians were being treated differently to other migrants and that they were desperate to leave.

“People have a right to stage a hunger strike. There are some people who have been here since the 14th of October, and now they want to leave. Others who have come more recently have already left the camp, and it’s not reasonable. Everyone should wait their turn. We can’t put up with the situation here for more than three or four days.”

The centre’s director agrees the situation is unacceptable and says they are trying to move people on as quickly as possible. But the facility is basic and staff are struggling to cope with the large-scale arrival of migrants and refugees.

Euronews correspondent in Lampedusa, Lilia Rotoloni, says Syrian refugees have told her they are ready to die of hunger if they aren’t allowed to leave immediately.