We are sorry for the gap between this update and the last one in January. Recently, there have been some changes in our group and volunteers leaving as well as new volunteers arrived. It turned February and even though it is getting warmer day by day, the nights are still freezing. Every day we meet 10 to 20 people who are kept in the detention containers at the french border for the whole night. They report that inside the containers are no sleeping possibilities and that the police refuses to hand out blankets, tea, water or food.
All in all, we can say, that during the last two weeks less people came to the Kesha Niya border spot compared to the weeks before. This might be connected to the fact that groups of French and Italian police (new cooperation) are controlling the Ventimiglia train station. They demand valid travel documents from people who want to take the train to France in the first place, which prohibits nothing but a safe travel. Due to that people on the move are forced to search for unsafe ways to cross the border like walking a mountain path or depending on smugglers who are taking advantage of the migrants’ vulnerable situation.
Also, the food distribution in Ventimiglia is less frequented, we are still in the process of figuring out whether there is a particular reason for that.
Apart from that the police controls remain similar as in the last couple of weeks. New is that the French police started to push back people with valid travel documents due to a “lack of a PCR test” – detaining them for more than 4 hours in the containers thus this is unlawful (as the whole pushback procedure itself).
Due to the change from yellow to red zone (Covid-19) in Ventimiglia also important structures for migrants in town (as “Bar Hobbit” which is an open place for everyone) must close.
Since the second week of February, there has been a significant number of minors pushed back (we met 63 of them). Even if these people carried documents that prove their minority the police puts their birthyear lower to not be responsible for their safety. Some of the minors we met are not older than 13 years. Until this moment there is not a single shelter for minors in Ventimiglia so as all the other persons also these kids are forced to sleep in the streets.
Many of the people being detained by the police told us about the French police being racist and using racist speech (like for example calling them “slaves”). On the 14th of January, people reported, that the situation in the detention container escalated and the police used physical violence and pepper spray against 35 persons who were inside. Two migrants fainted and were brought by ambulances to the hospital. On other days persons arrived at our border spot with a broken arm, a broken lip, or a broken finger. With all these experiences, most people tell us that they went through “worse” and that they hoped it would be better in France and in the middle of Europe. We are meeting many people who have experienced unhuman hardship within the camps in Malta or Lampedusa. Many described their frustration of the lack of awareness of the situation there. Others tell about the violence at other borders in Europe (for example in Croatia).
“We risked our life while crossing this sea… And now that.” – is often heard.
In the past weeks we met families and women with children who were held in the containers for many hours. In the beginning of February, the police had to call an ambulance for a 11-month-old baby that was weakened by this inhuman pushback practices. Most of the children we meet are overwhelmed by the situation and physical and emotional stress they and their parents and them are put in.
Following you find the numbers of people being pushbacked since the end of January. We want to remind you that our documentation is not complete as we are lacking capacities for recording all the people arriving at the border spot. Also, it is important for us to not reduce the situation to numbers but to keep in mind that every “number” is a person with his or her own story and life.
We can and will not close our eyes in front of this daily breach of human rights and we stand in solidarity with the people!
No borders, No problems
For more information or any questions contact the E-Mail below. We are also always happy for receiving money donations, to keep up our work.
Bank account: GLS Bank
Depositor: Frederik Bösing
IBAN: DE32 4306 0967 2072 1059 00