Italy's Berlusconi compares refugee conditions to Nazi death camps

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Italy's holding centers for immigrants are like "concentration camps," Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said in an apparent justification of his country's new practice of deporting to Libya migrants picked up at sea in international waters. He added that it was more humane to send migrant boats back to Libya than to let them enter Italy.

Berlusconi was speaking at a joint news conference on Tuesday with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, who said the priority should be to avoid humanitarian disasters at sea but stressed that the rights of asylum seekers should be respected.

Human rights groups, Catholic organisations and the Vatican have strongly criticised the deportations, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says the new Italian policy breaks international conventions on the rights of asylum seekers. The hundreds of people deported in recent weeks, the UNHCR says, included asylum seekers that Italy should accept.

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