Italy police forcibly remove migrants from border

Officers in riot gear raid camp at country’s Mediterranean boundary with France

Italian police officers carry away a migrant  from the Italian-French border in the city of Ventimiglia. Photograph: Jean Christophe Magnenet/AFP/Getty Images

Italian police officers carry away a migrant from the Italian-French border in the city of Ventimiglia. Photograph: Jean Christophe Magnenet/AFP/Getty Images

 

Italian police in riot gear have forcibly removed a few dozen African migrants who had been camping out for days at the country’s Mediterranean border with France.

Some of the migrants protested, grabbing onto signposts, while others had to be carried off - a violent scene that Italy used to show the rest of Europe that it needs to do more to deal with the continent’s migrant crisis.

“We are human beings. We are not animals,” said Saddam, a Sudanese migrant who watched the police operation on Tuesday at the Ventimiglia border crossing.

“I know we are black and we have come from Africa, but we are still humans.”

Migrants on the rocks jutting out into the sea were left alone, with police apparently unwilling to move into that location.

The rest were loaded onto a Red Cross bus and taken to the nearby train station.

It was not immediately clear why the Red Cross allowed their bus to be used for the police operation.

The migrants, mostly from Sudan and Eritrea, had camped out for five days after French border police refused to let them cross.

The group had refused to leave, saying that they want to find family members elsewhere in Europe.

EU rules

Under EU rules, applicants for refugee status are supposed to be fingerprinted and processed for asylum status in the first EU country where they land.

Many new migrants, however, prefer to go through Italy without being officially registered so that they can head further north, where they might be able to find better job opportunities while their asylum claims are being processed.

Italian interior minister Angelino Alfano, arriving at an EU interior ministers’ meeting in Luxembourg, said the scenes from Ventimiglia were proof that migrants do not want to stay in Italy.

Italy, which has borne the brunt of the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean, is demanding that other European countries take in the migrants and let them apply for asylum.

The country has seen 54,000 migrants land so far this year, according to refugee agencies.

Many other EU nations are resisting an EU proposal to help Italy with migrant numbers.

France has also mreinforced its border controls over the past few weeks.

PA