Dear followers, friends and comrades,
This post contains: update on KN activities; continuing situation in Ventimiglia; accounts of people fleeing Ukraine blocked at French border
It has been a long time since there has been an update from Kesha Niya, and it’s understandable this radio silence can feel a bit sudden after spending a period sharing very specific numbers and accounts. This will be a quick update to inform on what has been happening since the previous updates.
The situation in Ventimiglia is continuing and border pushbacks are going on as ‘normal’; hundreds of migrants are illegally pushed back daily, detained in a metal container, and with regularity border police use violence and/or falsify documents. The only noted difference is that most recently, there are fewer accounts of physical violence and police may have started to release overnight detainees a little earlier in the morning.
There have been a number of people who have died in their attempts to cross. There are reports of a death happening at least once a month. People frequently lose their life climbing on top of trains, and only this morning two people were killed on the highway. We call on everyone to consider in how far these deaths are accidental – does EU border policy consider it a bug or a feature?
Within Ventimiglia the winter has just passed, dinner distributions by various aid groups have continued, as well as Medecins du Monde appearing twice a week. Progetto 20k still show up with a phone charging station. With the sad loss of Bar Hobbit (Ventimiglia) we have seen another migrant-friendly space in the city disappear. Meanwhile the legislation surrounding Italy’s “Green Pass” is complicating the everyday life of migrants all over the country, requiring a Green Pass to access virtually any facility, but keeping it difficult for migrants to obtain one. In November it was accounced that a new camp would be created around Ventimiglia. More about this in links added below.
Another actual topic is people fleeing from Ukraine, who remarkably make it through various countries just fine with their visas stamped and all, only to be blocked here by French border cops “because we only let Ukrainians through. The way back out of Europe is not through France” (a response given by a cop when asked why a few students from India were denied their right to continue). It concerns mostly students from non-European countries who had been studying in Ukraine, and there have been a few dozen cases since the start of the war. This week a couple of Moroccan nationals who planned to continue their studies in Spain were told by French cops to turn around and go fight the Russians. Reportedly the Italian side of the border have no issue with them passing and are a bit stumped by this as well.
These are the sort of accounts that can be collected at the border spot. Monitoring and receiving people coming out of detention at the border has been continued by Kesha Niya as well as Progetto 20k, who were also kind enough to step in while Kesha Niya attempted a period of reconstruction. Over the years Kesha Niya has faced a lot of challenges concerning healthy work environments, with topics like burnout, community care and response against boundary-crossing behaviour taking up a lot of energy and headspace from volunteers. Dealing with that responsibly is, as people familiar with autonomous communities will know, something that takes time and energy and is greatly complicated by the changing in- and outflux of volunteers. For these reasons, Kesha Niya turned inward for a bit. It looks like our challenge is to balance designing not just a border action, and not just a volunteer community, but a volunteer community built stably around border action. Now that Kesha Niya are steadily picking up work again it’s time to turn outward again, and this hopefully provides some context to the recent volunteer callout. Please feel free to inform after the situation if you’re thinking to head over.
Last, an apology for the lack of recent updates on social media etc; we understand the information and witness accounts we share can do a lot to offer insight for people who are not present here. We have a tendency to prioritize physical work over writing and media engagement, and with this many things taking our focus, the updates to outside took an even lower priority. This is maybe not the ideal thing to happen, but a realistic thing that we hope followers can understand. With more volunteers, rest and time we can hope to get regular updates going again slowly, to offer more transparency and share witness accounts. Meanwhile we hope you assume that we haven’t disappeared – and neither has the violence of the EU border regime.
Thanks for reading!
(in Italian) Bordighera, sull’A10 è strage di migranti. Il conducente del furgone sotto shock: «Sono sbucati all’improvviso»
Migrant electrocuted on top of train traveling from Italy to France
Italy: Rights groups sound alarm over ‘Green Pass Paradox’ for undocumented migrants
Ventimiglia authorities announce new migrant transit center