- Title: At Italy's "Mini-Calais", migrants dream of life in France
- Date: 5th October 2016
- Summary: VENTIMIGLIA, ITALY (OCTOBER 4, 2016) (REUTERS) TEMPORARY HOMES IN VENTIMIGLIA CAMP MAN WITH INJURED HEAD WALKING IN CAMP MIGRANTS LYING ON THE FLOOR (SOUNDBITE) (French) SUDANESE MIGRANT LIVING IN THE CAMP, MAGDI, 21 YEARS OLD, POINTING AT THE ROOMS AND SAYING: "These are the rooms... the rooms." MEN WAITING NEXT TO THE ROOMS VARIOUS OF BEDS AND MEN LYING ON IT MEN TALKING TO EACH OTHER MAN SMILING (SOUNDBITE) (French) SUDANESE MIGRANT LIVING IN THE CAMP, MAGDI, 21 YEARS OLD, SAYING: "We have friends and members of the family that are now in Germany, in Italy. We are asking them money to leave by train, car or anything." VARIOUS OF MAGDI (SOUNDBITE) (French) THE SAME MAN SAYING: "Families, our families in Sudan, in different regions of Sudan, they are suffering. They can't send us any money. Actually, we have to send money to them. So it is very complicated. Now, we are wasting our time. This is how it is always, we are wasting our time and our lives here." VARIOUS OF MEN WASHING THEMSELVES VARIOUS OF MEN PLAYING FOOTBALL IN CAMP GROUNDS MENTON, FRANCE (OCTOBER 4, 2016) (REUTERS) ITALY SIGN NEXT TO BORDER CONTROL POST CARS DRIVING PAST FRENCH BORDER POLICE FRENCH BORDER POLICE WAVING A CAR THROUGH FRENCH BORDER POLICE CHECKING CAR CAR DRIVING AWAY VENTIMIGLIA, ITALY (OCTOBER 4, 2016) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF MIGRANTS WALKING ON STREET VARIOUS OF MEN SITTING ON THE FLOOR NEAR A GIANT SPIDERMAN STATUE MIGRANT WHO LEFT DARFOUR FIVE YEARS AGO, HASSAN, TALKING (SOUNDBITE) (English) MIGRANT WHO LEFT DARFOUR FIVE YEARS AGO, HASSAN, SAYING: "We try, it's like, eight times. But I have a hurt in my leg when I was born. So, everytime we go, police gets us then bring us back." CHURCH COURTYARD IN CITY CENTRE WHERE FAMILIES AND UNACCOMPANIED CHILDREN ARE HOUSED MEN SITTING TOGETHER, AND CHILDREN SITTING AROUND A TABLE IN COURTYARD CHILDREN PLAYING IN A ROOM WITH PRIEST RITO JULIO ALVAREZ (SOUNDBITE) (Italian) PRIEST RITO JULIO ALVAREZ FROM SANT' ANTONIO CHURCH SAYING: "Some of them managed to go through and reach their objective but many have been sent back many times. Without distinctions, men, women, children, everyone was sent back. We have some unaccompanied minors here, who are alone, who have been caught and sent back to Ventimiglia. It's a difficult situation. Very complicated. From a human point of view very complicated." MAN SITTING ON A CHAIR IN MIDDLE OF COURTYARD MAN RUBBING HIS EYES VARIOUS OF MIGRANTS HANGING THEIR LAUNDRY MAN SITTING ON CHAIR IN MIDDLE OF COURTYARD VARIOUS OF CHILDREN MAKING DRAWINGS BOY SITTING ON A TOY CAR
- Embargoed: 20th October 2016 14:43
- Keywords: migrants Italy camp Ventimiglia little Calais France children
- Location: VENTIMIGLIA, ITALY/ MENTON, FRANCE
- City: VENTIMIGLIA, ITALY/ MENTON, FRANCE
- Country: France
- Topics: Asylum/Immigration/Refugees,Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA00152QC287
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: CLIENTS, PLEASE NOTE: CHILDREN'S FACES MUST BE BLURRED
Far from the crowded 'Jungle' camp in Calais where migrants try to smuggle themselves aboard trucks bound for Britain, hundreds more are risking their lives to enter the other end of France from northern Italy.
The frontier between Italy's Ventimiglia and Menton in southern France is already known as 'Mini Calais' - and the problem may get bigger. Just this week, Italian coastguards have rescued more than 10,000 migrants who set out from Libya on the north coast of Africa.
Nightly, people who have fled war in countries such as Sudan and Libya set out from Red Cross and Caritas camps on the Italian side in the hope that they can negotiate the 5-6 km. (3.1 to 3.7 miles) of mountain passes and tunnels and enter France unnoticed.
Magdi, a 21-year-old from Sudan, said they have relatives in other parts of Europe, who they are reaching out to.
"We have friends and members of the family that are now in Germany, in Italy. We are asking them money to leave by train, car or anything," Magdi said.
Meanwhile, their families back home who are impoverished are waiting for their aid. "Now, we are wasting our time. This is how it is always, we are wasting our time and our lives here," he added.
His camp, located near Ventimiglia city town, was built in July.
Magdi, who left Sudan last January, crossing Chad, Niger and Libya before making it to Ventimiglia, wants to get to Montpellier because a French lady he met on a boat spoke about it.
One of his attempts to enter France 10 days ago was aborted when a fellow-migrant was hit by a train and got seriously injured while walking along the tracks.
Hassan, a young man who set out from Sudan's Darfur region five years ago and has made it as far as the border, despite a childhood injury that left him with a walking handicap.
"This is my eighth attempt," he said. "Everytime we go, police gets us then bring us back."
Another camp was built in the courtyard of Sant' Antonio church, housing between 70-80 persons since May, including women, children, and some families. Volunteers and spontaneous donations are helping run the centre.
"Some of them managed to go through and reach their objective but many have been sent back many times. Without distinctions, men, women, children, everyone was sent back. We have some unaccompanied minors here, who are alone, who have been caught and sent back to Ventimiglia. It's a difficult situation. Very complicated. From a human point of view very complicated," said parish priest Rito Julio Alvarez.
Most of the refugees are staying in one of the two camps. But some of them, living along the Roya river are helped out by No Border militants.
A record 65.3 million people were uprooted worldwide last year, with wars in Syria and Africa responsible for a large part of a 50 percent surge in just five years, the United Nations refugee agency said in a report in June. That means 1 in every 113 people on the planet is now a refugee, asylum-seeker or internally displaced person.
For those who get further than Magdi and Hassan, there is every chance of being sent straight back.
French police are manning the border around the clock, conducting checks on travelers.
The local police department in the Alpes-Maritimes region of France says 1,521 migrants were arrested last week, of whom 94 percent were returned. So far this year, total arrests in the area are 24,344.
European Union law says migrants must apply for asylum in the country where they first enter the bloc, and Italy is increasingly struggling to deal with the growing numbers.
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