The lives of refugees in Ventimiglia at risk
Since 2015, the city of #Ventimiglia at the Italian-French border, is one of the most important crossing points in #Europe – seeing about 30.000 #refugees each year.
Generally, those who arrive in #Italy aspire to go elsewhere: some try to reach Menton in France, by train or on foot; others try it through dangerous routes, such as the so called “death pass”, that climbs into the mountains; finally, there are those who pay the passeurs (smugglers) up to 250€ each or try to cross the border hidden in the boot of cars or trucks.
Since #France has closed its #borders and implements a harsh policy of refoulement, most of these attempts fail. Some lose their lives and many end up back in Ventimiglia. There are even unaccompanied minors who are illegally rejected by the French Gendarmerie.
From July 2016 to July 2020, Campo Roja reception camp – managed by the #RedCross operated in Ventimiglia. The centre, now decommissioned, was the only one that welcomed people in transit. Now, they no longer have access to reception facilities and are forced to sleep under overpasses, without toilets or access to food.
The lack of primary services and the ongoing human rights violations have prompted citizens’ to organize. The experience of Filippo and Loredana, a local couple, is an example. Since Campo Roja was closed, they started hosting people in their own house, especially women and children, who are more vulnerable to passeurs. They have hosted about 200 people. Most stay for a night or so, receiving a hot meal, a chance to wash up and a safe place to sleep, but above all advice and guidance on how to (re)try to cross the border.
However, volunteers do not have the capacities to replace the state regarding the needs of people in transit: there is the need for a humanitarian intervention, as well as State support specifically aimed at managing vulnerabilities and healthcare needs.
The situation has been made more unstable by the resignation of the municipal administration, a few days ago; this will contribute to prolong the deadlock and the institutional vacuum. Another precarious summer is expected for persons in transit.