As the migration crisis strains the EU’s borders, what is happening in Italy, the western gateway to northern Europe? Monica Pinna finds out the pulse of this historic migration runway For this purpose, I visited Ventimiglia, on the border of France and Italy.
The Italian town of Ventimiglia, about eight kilometers from the French border, has been the backdrop to a persistent migrant crisis for the past eight years.
In 2015, France reintroduced internal border controls, making Ventimiglia a systematic bottleneck for migrants trying to reach the Nordic countries.
According to Schengen rules, this measure should be “exceptional” and strictly “limited in time.” The French government said the measures were introduced in response to a “terrorist threat”.
The European Court of Justice said in September that the backlash was unlawful. The EU’s highest court said they breached EU rules on migrant returns, and said those involved should be “given a certain period of time to voluntarily leave the territory”.
Once a week, Filippo, a former construction worker, drives families rejected by French police back to Ventimiglia police station.
“The last 15 kilometers is psychological and moral violence, especially on the European side, against people who have no way back,” he says. Filippo’s passengers will likely try to enter France again, either to look for work, for family or on their way to another northern country. Filippo shows them another way to continue their journey.
Some 40,000 migrants have been returned to Italy this year. The association says that sooner or later, 90% of migrants manage to leave the country, and tightening restrictions will only make the border more dangerous. Since 2015, about 50 migrants have died trying to cross the border.
“This is a continuous, silent genocide, clearly not on the scale of the genocide in the Mediterranean, but unfortunately happening in the heart of Europe,” said Jacopo Colomba, legal advisor at ONG WeWorld. .
Watch Monica Pinna’s full report in the video player above.