A group of migrants have set up a new makeshift camp under an elevated road near Ventimiglia in northern Italy after police prevented their attempts to cross into France
The people at the camp have just blankets and cardboard sheets on the ground to sleep on, using the elevated road as shelter in case of rain.
One of the refugees said in a video taken by RT’s Ruptly video agency that he had to pay $3,000 (around €2,600) to traffickers to cross the Mediterranean from Libya into Italy, a perilous journey made by around 500,000 people since 2014.
“If you don’t pay money, they can shoot you to death, or maybe they can cut your legs; maybe they will cut your hand. Many things they can do to you,” he said.
In late June, local authorities in Ventimiglia ordered the shutting of a large camp on the bank of the Roja River, which hosted around 400 Middle Eastern and North Africans migrants.
The move prompted people to try making their way into nearby France as hundreds walked toward the border.
However, they were met with a heavy presence from Italian police at the checkpoint as officers used teargas to disperse the crowd.
Individual attempts by migrants to cross into France using woodland paths during the night were prevented by the French authorities.
Ventimiglia has been recently referred to as Italy’s “mini-Calais” – after the port city in northern France which hosted a large makeshift refugee camp of migrants, trying to reach the UK.
With 82,000 people arriving already since the start of the year, Italy said it has been struggling with the refugee influx and demanded greater involvement from the EU.
The country even threatened to close its ports for humanitarian vessels rescuing migrants from sinking boats in the Mediterranean, seeking to have them redirected to other coastal countries.
The European Commission backed Italy’s plea by saying that the ports in Barcelona and Marseille could also receive migrant boats, but there was no enthusiasm for the idea in Spain and France.
The interior ministers of France, Germany and Italy were scheduled to get together in Paris on Sunday to discuss possible assistance for Rome.
However, an aide told Reuters that one shouldn’t expect immediate decisions at the meeting due to a summit of EU interior ministers scheduled to take place in Tallinn, Estonia next week.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, also said in a statement on Sunday that Italy needs more help from the EU.
“What is happening in front of our eyes in Italy is an unfolding tragedy,” Grandi said, adding that that Europe required an “urgent distribution system” and the widening of legal channels for the admission of asylum seekers.
“Italy is playing its part in receiving those rescued and providing asylum to those in need of protection. These efforts must be continued and strengthened. But this cannot be an Italian problem alone,” Grandi said.