Hello and Salaam,
Sorry that we didn’t post anything for a long time, a lot of things happened and of course we are still cooking for Refugees in Ventimiglia (Italy).
The last month was Ramadan, for this the distribution changed, another group from Nice prepared dinner to 9pm, so we cooked for the 2:30am breakfast for around 150-200 people and for the same amount lunch.
For this month we splitted our team, one part stayed in france to build up our new kitchen and the other stayed in Ventimiglia to cook, for clothe distribution and first aid.
Our cooking spots changed 4 times, the police chased us from spot to spot.
During Ramadan, there came up a rumor that the bridge will be evicted at the 25 of june, so at the end of Ramandan, in the end there was a big clean but the people could come back after. Now our kitchen in france is finished and we use it to prepare dinner (700 meals) four times a week, the other 3 days the group from Nice is cooking.
Here we have some important informations of Ventimiglia:
The situation in Ventimiglia:
For at least the past several months, there have been 3 to 4 deportations towards the South of Italy of the refugees settled in Ventimiglia. These deportations took place in alarming ways, often damaging the dignity and security of these refugees. Indeed, they often took place during the night, following dangerous and aggressive chases through the forest, and resulting in wounds that had to be treated in the hospital.
Furthermore, the living conditions for these refugees is alarmingly bad, as they are forced to live in miserable and dirty conditions , close to the river verge. Altough there are four NGOs bringing support, they only do so from within the existing structures, such as the church or the Red Cross camp, that many refugees cannot or will not enter.
The 23.06, the townhall of Ventimiglia published an official open letter declaring that there will be a big “cleaning” of the river, 48 hours following the publication of the letter, and that all refugees living in the area will have to leave before. It asked the associations working there to transmit this message to the refugees sleeping there, and to invite them to enter the camp held by the Red Cross.
However, most of the refugees do not trust the Red Cross, for various reasons such as the physical presence of the police at its entrance, the fact that they are obliged to leave their fingerprints, and lastly, because of the information circulating between them that there was a scarby infection there. Various volunteers working alongside the refugees confirm that they had to heal people from this camp who were suffering from this disease. Moreover, if the Red Cross added some places to its camp, these places were insufficient for the the 400 to 500 refugees envolved.
In this context, and following these informations, several assemblies took place with all the refugees, during which they received this information and discussed their opinion about it, as well as possible options as to what they could do. Several options came out of the discussions, such as the following:
-the option of walking towards the French border,
-the option of moving forwards on the river to occupy another spot, and to resist there in case of a police intervention,
-the option of taking the train towards the French border,
-the option of going to the Red Cross was of course discussed but was immediately dismissed by all (for the reasons earlier discussed)
The first option quickly became the most popular, mostly because of the abuse of dignity they had been forced to live with in Ventimiglia, as well as the constant risk of being deported, which had severly increased since the publication of the letter.
During these discussions, we warned them of the risks that each option implied. In particular, we warned them of the risks implied by a walk towards the border, such as direct deportation to the South of Italy, physical abuse by the police, and even possible deportation to their country of origin (which had happened to soundanese refugees one year before, following a protest at the border). Whatever they chose, we assured them that we would act solidarily and bring them the support that we could in such a situation.
Despite the risks involved, the refugees insisted on walking towards the border, and as promised, we brought them the support that we could. A few people decided on their own behalf to join the walk, having abilities in translation (french-english-arabic) and in an ergency first aid.
Soon after we left, as we arrived towards the end of the road of the Red Cross, we were suddenly arrested by a barrage of policemen, who did not hesitate to throw teargaz at the masses of people, without having tried to comiunicate with the people present.
If desired, we will continue to follow through information about this situation and the general situation of Ventimiglia.