Border tensions boil over as France 'dumps' migrants in Italy

Border tensions boil over as France 'dumps' migrants in Italy

A migrant walks across the road close to the French border in Claviere, Italy [File:Massimo Pinca/Reuters]

Relations between Italy and France hit a fresh low this week, with Rome accusing French border guards of illegally crossing the border to “dump” unwelcome migrants inside Italian territory.

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On Monday, a delegation from the Italian interior ministry was expected in the Italian mountain village of Claviere, 80km north of Turin, to research increasing reports of illegal crossings by French officers.

“The French are trespassing, dumping migrants at their pleasure … but Italy is longer the refugee camp of Europe no,” said Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, on Sunday as he ordered a brand new military deployment to check on the border.

Italian authorities declare that French officers overlook the frontier line in addition to standard refoulement procedures for migrants, often dropping them in the woods between Claviere and the French town of Montgenevre.

defuse the tensions

To, Christophe Castaner, the newly-appointed French interior minister, said he wanted to improve border cooperation but needed more stringent measures against undocumented immigration, in Italy supposedly.

“We must become more efficient in the expulsion procedures of illegal migrants or those whose asylum request have been completely denied,” he told Journal du Dimanche. 

Salvini, who’s a deputy prime minister and the top of the&nbsp also;far-right League party, didn’t wait long to issue a sharp retort.

“I’m happy Castaner shares my views about illegal migrants. When I spoke of expulsions I was labelled a racist, by the French even. Better late than never”. 

The Italian government’s hard line on migration has come under fire by French President Emmanuel Macron, but Castaner has tried to avoid participating in a spat with Salvini.

Macron, however, have not hidden his antipathy for Salvini and his anti-migrant policies, describing the inside minister’s approach as “nauseating”.

The two have engaged in a tit-for-tat, with Salvini replying by calling Macron a hypocrite disguised as a humanitarian who invokes solidarity while pushing away migrants, including children. 

Amnesty accuses France of inhuman treatment 


Perhaps, Salvini’s accusations are actually finding an echo in the contrary camp of human rights watchdogs.


On, Amnesty International and 12 other charities accused France’s authorities of mistreating refugees and migrants, including children, at the borders with Italy in what they referred to as the “inhuman and hypocritical behaviour of the French authorities”.


The allegations came following a task force of 60 human rights lawyers and activists conducted a two-day mission at the French border town of Briancon, not from Claviere far.

“The set of violations is long, and we join our voices to those of local NGOs in order that the French government stops turning a deaf ear and stops these illegal and degrading practices,” said Agnes Lerolle, coordinator of the French-Italian task force.

“This inhuman and hypocritical behaviour is unacceptable in circumstances of law.”

Amnesty said the violations include obstruction of asylum requests, neglect of unaccompanied minors, mistreatment, denial and harassment of emergency healthcare and humanitarian assistance.

“The attitude of French border control authorities is appalling,” Riccardo Noury, a spokesperson for Amnesty told Al Jazeera. “Using threats, aggressive and scornful behaviour towards defenceless people, migrant children especially, is deplorable.”

Amnesty denounced a systematic violation of the rights of migrants to request asylum. Under international law, migrants should be granted the proper to request asylum and unaccompanied children ought to be provided immediate protection, of their status regardless.

“France is violating both principles,” Noury said. 

The French Ministry of Interior didn’t react to Al Jazeera’s obtain touch upon the alleged abuses.

Denial of medical child and care protection 

In one documented case, an Ivorian migrant was denied health care after sustaining a personal injury throughout a chase by French guards in the woods.

“Border police threatened to shoot him down if he didn’t stop,” said Noury. “He received medical assistance only after being taken back to Italy.”


An unaccompanied minor from Ivory Coast told Amnesty the French border police refused to acknowledge his age, saying “all migrants claim to be minors”.

“I was told, I cannot reside in France easily am not just a French citizen and I could never desire to become one,” the minor told the UK-based rights group.

In just two days, the duty force witnessed 26 cases of migrants pushed into Italy back, eight of whom were unaccompanied minors. In accordance with Amnesty, at the very least 11 of the refoulements were illegal and its own lawyers have appealed to the Tribunal of Marseilles because of their annulment.

In June, Oxfam, Intersos along with other human rights watchdogs condemned French methods – especially towards minor children across the southern border with Italy.

They said minors as early as 12 were being held without care or food, placed on trains or left at the border without the assistance despite their requests to stay in France.

The charities accused French police of falsifying the birth dates of migrant children travelling alone so that they can pass them off as adults and send them back again to Italy, and cutting the soles off their shoes to avoid them from trespassing again. 

‘Ping-pong game of migrants’

But while France is violating the essential human rights of migrants allegedly, Italy in addition has come under criticism because of its inability to implement a strict registration system of refugees arriving on its soil.

The national country has been struggling to sustain an effective registration process for asylum seekers, who sometimes arrive by the thousands on Italian shores. Most migrants’ centres are near collapse.

There is not any mechanism set up enabling an integration process and stranded refugees remain subjected to the net of illegal labour and human trafficking as a result of criminal organisations. 

“In this ongoing ping-pong game of migrants between France and Italy you will find a fundamental international norm that’s being violated: the proper to asylum,” said Noury.

“The Dublin Accord has turned the countries of the south, like Greece and Italy, into parking lots for humans, since it lacks a solidarity principle of redistribution of migrants.”

The accord stipulates a migrant should file their asylum request in the national country of entry. The evaluation process can last many months and its own acceptance isn’t granted. For the time being, the host nation is left to bear the migrant’s costs indefinitely.

Southern countries such as for example Italy and Greece say refugees and migrants ought to be distributed among European states. Many also think that the Dublin system pushes migrants to select illegal methods to reach the north of Europe, increasing human trafficking thus. 

According to estimates with the Italian Ministry of Interior, of 82 out,000 asylum requests examined in 2017, some 52.4 percent weren’t eligible. Today, you can find around 600,000 undocumented migrants in Italy.

“There’s consensus on the proven fact that Dublin has to be changed, but we have been stuck,” Hanne Beirens, acting director of the Migration Policy Institute Europe, told Al Jazeera.

“In the lack of a politically acceptable solution, countries are adopting these random measures at the borders now, like stopping secondary movements of migrants within Europe.”

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