Residents of Ventimiglia, the last Italian town before the Franco-Italian border, are up in arms over plans to build a second migrant camp in their picture postcard locale.
The mayor of Ventimiglia is not a popular man these days. Thirty two-year old Enrico Ioculano is bearing the brunt of the anger felt by his town’s inhabitants, several hundred of whom marched through the streets to his office yesterday in protest at Italian government plans to open a new complex to house migrants awaiting entry into France.
Residents of the attractive town, located a stone’s throw away from the French border on Italy’s Ligurian coast, are furious at plans to accommodate the continuing influx, saying that the seaside town has already become one enormous refugee camp.
Fearing that the situation is becoming permanent after three years, one man expressed his frustration declaring to Ruptly TV, ‘’We’ve had enough! Ventimiglia has been invaded. We can’t live freely in our own town anymore.’’
‘’It’s no longer tenable’’, the resident continued, ‘’and what’s more, they’re doing this with taxpayer money. The government imposes it on us and we pay. It can’t go on!’’
With record numbers of migrants landing at Sicily and more stringent checks on direct routes into France, Ventimiglia has become a bottleneck for those seeking to cross the border, with a constant flow of new arrivals leaving residents of the town feeling under siege. Women are reportedly afraid to venture out alone after dark and tourists are staying away.
Taking to the streets yesterday morning, hundreds of local residents marched to the town hall to confront the center-left mayor – who belongs to the same Democratic Party that governs Italy – insisting that no new reception centers be opened and that the state take action to deal with the crisis.
Hundreds of mostly African migrants are living between an already established camp and a Catholic-run mission. Hundreds more live rough along the Roya River in shanty dwellings, waiting for an opportunity to enter France either by train, along the rocky coastline or inland via mountainous back-country routes.
Concerns were expressed yesterday that the flow of tourists, particularly from France’s Côte d’Azur, is dwindling as negative publicity depicts Ventimiglia as an ‘’Italian Calais’’, a reference to the northern French port town plagued by lawlessness as migrants await passage to the UK.
That residents of Ventimiglia are reaching the end of their tether will come as no surprise to those following events in Italy; as the country’s economic and banking crisis continues, there is a feeling amongst many Italians that they have been more than charitable and that the numbers arriving are overwhelming the country – despite the significant resources and many volunteer programs in place to help migrants in difficulty.
In recent months, there have been numerous attacks on reception centers and hotels housing migrants at locations across the country, ranging from arson attacks to bombings. With this in mind, and elections looming, the Italian government will be eager to be seen to take action. If not, more protests and vigilantism could well follow.
Photo Credits: SIR/M. Luppi,
Video by Ruptly TV (RT)