Here’s an update about the activities and developments in Ventimiglia from the 13th to the 23rd of August.
At the franco-italian border we have met an average of 85 people per day. Nearly every day, we encountered between three and ten cases of minors who were pushed back without legal grounds by the french police. Since we have returned to work at the border we have seen multiple times how the french PAF(border police) is writing false information on the “Denial-of-entry” paper. This includes changing the date of birth, forcing minors to be treated as adults. The italian police has stopped verifying these dates and informations given by the PAF and so stopped returning them to the french territory, as they did in some cases in the past.
The police are still controlling the bus from the border to Ventimiglia and we have seen them shouting without reason at people who haven’t yet tried to enter it. The bus doesn’t have enough seats to accommodate all passengers, even though there are bigger buses available and the amount of people they allow to enter is changing with every run. Our attempts to contact the bus company in order to make a complaint about not allowing the legal amount of people on or not stopping at all were fruitless.
On the 15th and 19th of august we met many people who suffered prolonged detention, being detained for over 20 hours, from which about 50 people stayed over night at the PAF. On the 16th of august three families were in detention, and on 5 other days we met women, alone or with children, as well as other families.
We are meeting more and more families being pushed back every week, sometimes held in the container with several other people over night.
On the 16th, 17th and 22nd of august we counted over 100 people, 130 being only on the 17th.
At the distribution we cook for about 80 to 120 people at the parking, and around 30 to 50 more meals are distributed at the train station and train tracks. At the distribution on the 22nd we gave nearly 200 meals in total. The police in Ventimiglia more frequently control the train tracks and the bridge where people are sleeping, sending them away and blocking their return. Yesterday they removed a watercontaier we had placed on the train tracks to give access to water. They explain that it is a matter of security, even though the train tracks are no longer in use anymore and there has not been one incident where someone was harmed. We expect this to be a follow up to the statement of the mayor and prefecture, preventing people from sleeping in or around Ventimiglia.
Along with our primary obligations, Progetto20K is still involved at the border with us and is present in Ventimiglia and at the food distribution with their mobile Infopoint, as well as occasional night monitorings.
The bar Hobbit in Ventimiglia is struggling. It is a central meeting point for the actors and a safe space for people. Since Delia, the owner of the bar, has opened her place for people with migrating backgrounds in 2015, she doesn’t have enough customers to cover the expenses of her bar or her living costs. For five years, she has been collecting food and clothes as well as hygiene products to distribute, provides a safe-space to rest and charge devices and takes care of families and vulnerable people.If you want to support her and her place, you can follow the link, https://www.gofundme.com/f/solidarieta-per-delia
Roya Citoyenne(FR) has started a petition regarding the situation at the border with the request of transit camps on both sides of the border. https://www.change.org/p/m-le-président-de-la-république-pour-le-respect-des-droits-fondamentaux-des-exile-e-s-a-la-frontiere-franco-italienne?utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=custom_url&recruited_by_id=5ca9f3b0-74d7-11e4-b58b-21310b3a4d22ä
Since more people arrive in Ventimiglia, including families and minors, we and other actors are looking for accommodation possibilities. The safe places for (vulnerable) people in Ventimiglia are very limited and since the closing of the Campo Roya months ago, the need for them has constantly risen. We are trying to mobilize private hosts and find new ways to provide safe hosting in Italy. In order to improve the flow of information to people and for them to be more autonomous, we are working on simple information sheets about Ventimiglia and the facilities, which we want to forward to activists in the south of Italy, Sicilia, Rome and the Slovenian-Italian border.
Our search for new locations to improve our activism is ongoing, both for a property to live on and work on, as well as maybe a room or flat in Ventimiglia to host, store and cook. Since the lack of support by officials and authorities, struggles at this border are ongoing and getting worse every week.
Thank you for your much needed support!