This week, Refugee Rights Data Project in partnership with Refugee Youth Service France released the report “In Dangerous Transit – Filling information gaps relating to refugees and displaced people in Ventimiglia, Italy based on research conducted in the end of August. The report finds that the current response by Italy and France disregards with the principles of universal human rights.

The report outlines that the current situation is detrimental to the health and wellbeing of migrants and refugees passing the town, in particular for unaccompanied minors. The living conditions are inadequate, particularly outside the Red Cross camp. The lack of access to clean drinking water and sufficient food outside the camp as well as the overall sanitary conditions raise serious concerns.  85.2 % of all respondents regularly wash themselves in the river, which is also used as toilet and some are on occasion used for supply of drinking-water. Only 14.5 % of those with health problems had been able to access medical care. A high proportion of respondents gave testimony of experiencing violence by Italian (40.4 %) and French (53.1 %) police. The report further concludes that it is a common pattern to  make several attempts to cross the border, whereas “the combination of repeated push-backs and police violence on both sides of the border, in the absence of any viable alternatives, appear detrimental to displaced people’s mental and physical well-being. “

Ventimiglia (“Twenty miles”) is the last town on the Italian side of the border with France. Since the temporary introduction of border controls by France in November 2015, migrants and refugees trying to bypass the border took the more dangerous route through the mountains or motorway tunnels. According to figures provided by the charity Caritas, in July 2017 approximately 400 migrants and refugees have been hosted in a Red Cross camp while 300 were sleeping rough on riverbeds and under bridges.


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Photo: from Refugees Rights Data Project, In Dangerous Transit