Condoms urged for Tunisian migrants on Italian island

To prevent unwanted pregnancies and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, condoms should be given to the thousands of Tunisian migrants who have set up camp on Italy’s southern island of Lampedusa, a top medical officer said Wednesday.

“Just as cigarettes can be distributed, we can hand out condoms and other forms of contraception,” said Nicola Surico, the head of Italy’s association of gynaecologists and obstetricians.

“This would cut the risk of STDs such as syphillis and the (cancer causing) papillomavirus, as well as unwanted pregnancies,” she said.

There are, at present, more than 6,000 Tunisian immigrants on Lampedusa, who had fled the country when anti-government protests erupted earlier this year.

There could could be dozens of unwanted pregnancies among female migrants. “Unfortunately, in many cases, these women are likely to seek abortions,” another official said.

The influx has caused severe overcrowding and has angered residents on the tiny fishing island whose population is around 5,300.

Six navy and passenger ships were expected to transfer many of the migrants to other centres elsewhere in Italy as food was running out and sanitary conditions described by officials as “desperate”.

Lampedusa lies around 113 km from Tunisia and 205 km south of Sicily. (IANS/AKI)

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