Appalling, shocking, unacceptable scenes. In Rome and Brussels alike, footage shot at the detention centre on the Italian island of Lampedusa, broadcast on the evening of 16 December 2013 by Italian public television and showing "migrants queuing up for a shower, naked in the cold and draughts, waiting to be sprayed with a disinfectant," provoked shock and an outcry.

Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta, speaking to the press, said he was "shocked" and promised a "full" investigation, with sanctions for those responsible. He will be in Brussels on 19 December for a European Council, where the Union's responses to migratory flows are on the agenda, following the sinking of a boat carrying refugees that left 360 Eritreans and Somalis dead in the waters off Lampedusa, on 3 October. Like the Greek and Maltese leaders, Letta seeks greater "solidarity" in Europe on immigration. His country has received additional aid of 30 million.

"We are going to contact the Italian authorities to ask for more information on what happened," warned the Commissioner with responsibility for immigration, Cecilia Malmstrom, on 18 December, after viewing the "appalling and unacceptable" scenes. "We will not hesitate to launch infringement proceedings." She announced an "investigation" into "the abominable treatment in many detention centres, including Lampedusa". Malmstrom added: "Our assistance and support to the Italian authorities in managing migratory flows can be continued only if the country guarantees humane and dignified reception conditions...

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