A few information about the current situation in Ventimiglia:
The “Campo Roja”, created and managed by Red Cross, which was providing shelter in the past, has officially been closed on the 31st of july, the last 36 residents were sent to different camps in italy. This will leave vulnerable people, minors, women and families, as well as all the others living in or passing through the city, without protection or shelter, except by private matters, nor supported neither accepted by the authorities.
The interior minister of France went to Rome(IT) and announced the plan to create a new brigade, which will be formed by both, italian and french police, and work under one general command, to prevent migrating people from crossing the border.
In the Roya Valley(FR), north of Menton(FR), police activities are rising. More police are around and monitoring the border, mountains and trains. A checkpoint at the border, which has not been there for several months, has returned and police are controlling for non-white people.
In italy, the mayor of Ventimiglia has come to an agreement with the prefecture of Imperia and the chief of immigration, as to which people shall be blocked from arriving in Ventimiglia, as well as people without legal documents inside the city shall be arrested and deported, to where is not sayed. Based on these statements, we expect the bus, which was deporting people from Ventimiglia to Taranto once a week, to return in future. The mayor does not want to have an official camp or allow anyone to sleep in the streets, but can not provide any solution that would be realistic to solve the “problem” he is seeing.
We do expect an ongoing rise of arrivals in Ventimiglia, to which there is no helpful or constructive response by the authorities. Caritas is still present in Ventimiglia, offering food, showers and legal as well as medical advice.
Two other NGOs, Diaconia Valdese and WeWorld, are providing legal support regarding italian law at the border, in the city and in the Caritas building. SaveTheChildren, responsible for cases of minors, is present one week per month, following the procedures of minors in italy. Progetto20K is offering legal and general information with a mobile infopoint, as well as working with us at the border and pursuing other projects.
Kesha Niya is providing dinner five times per week, every evening at 7pm at the parking lot in Via Tenda, two days are taken by other collectives. Here we distributed between 60 and 150 meals daily, the amount of people coming and participating is changing every day, however, the most days we see about 100. The people we meet are mostly sleeping on the beech, along the train tracks in Ventimiglia or under a bridge. We estimate about 200people living in Ventimiglia without proper shelter.
The italian police are present and documenting the distribution, as well as requesting identification on an irregular base.
Thanks to some friends we have now a generator running at distribution, which provides charging for 40 phones simultaneously. This arrangement is occasionally used at the border as well, where we maintain our activities, giving food and beverage, legal and general information as well as creating a safe and comforting environment, to relax, regain energy and feel welcomed, away from (institutional) violence.
There we met an average of 80 people per day, who were pushed back by the french police. The highest amount we have met in the past two weeks was 135, not one day we met less than 60. In general the number of people trying to cross the border is rising on the weekends, which results in a higher number of pushbacks, especially on sundays and mondays mornings we meet 20 to 30 people before 10am and around 120 the whole day.
We have met several minors and some families with very young children who were in detention. On the days with the most minors SaveTheChildren was present to interact with them. We see people at the border more frequently being pushed back several days in a row, some of them try for over a week to cross the border daily.
There were not many cases of police violence reported to us, though there were many people who told us they were denied medical treatment for wounds or health conditions, not caused by the police, but having an impact on their well being. The french police is still ignoring the current Covid-19 situation regarding the people in detention, there are no preventive hygienic measures in place, and to force that dozens of people in a small space, often for many hours, is endangering. We hope the authorities will realize reacting with violence and force will not make people disappear, and will at least stop bothering us in future.
Either way, we will stay and collaborate with the other groups and collectives, as much as we can, to improve the situation in Ventimiglia. Thanks for your support!
Depositor: Frederik Bösing
IBAN: DE32 4306 0967 2072 1059 00
The picture was taken while the italian police is controlling bus tickets and masks of the people taking the bus from the border to Ventimiglia