French-Italian border. The Waldensian Diaconate and NGOs work together for asylum rights

On February 17 and 18 last, in Ventimiglia, Italian and French organisations and lawyers monitored what happens at the border, where violations of the international rules on the protection of minors repeatedly take place

Un migrante nell'accampamento informale lungo il greto del Fiume Roja dove vivono tra le 200 e le 300 persone

Rome (NEV), February 25, 2018 – The Waldensian Diaconate was present during two days’ monitoring at Ventimiglia on the French-Italian border on February 17 and 18 last. “Organisations and lawyers mobilised at the French-Italian border to allow people presenting themselves at the French border to exercise their rights in compliance with national, European and international legislation.” So reads the statement issued by promoters of the initiative.

Representatives of French and Italian organisations together with lawyers from several cities in those countries (Nice, Lyon, Paris, Toulouse, Milan, Genoa and Turin), monitored the situation at the border and offered assistance to people illegally refused entry by the French authorities, helping them to assert their rights before the court in Nice”.

Over 2 days, 20 cases of minors being refused entry were registered in violation of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child. At the Menton Garavan railway station and in front of the Menton Pont Saint-Louis border police station observers could see that “the latter was used as a place of detention for 36 people overnight on Saturday for periods of up to 12 hours, beyond the maximum statutory duration, and in unfit conditions. The note states: “People deprived of their liberty had no access to a lawyer, interpreter, doctor or telephone in violation of the law and of a decision of the Consiglio di Stato of July 5, 2017.

The Waldensian Diaconate also joined the effort through its program #OpenEurope which, in collaboration with Oxfam, is active in Sicily and Ventimiglia (at Campo Roja, the only camp recognized by the prefecture), providing mobile teams tasked with giving guidance to migrants.
The organisations involved seek a commitment from the French government to stop the illegal practice of refusing entry to asylum seekers and unaccompanied minors on the border with Italy.  These organisations include Cimade, a French Protestant NGO which has been active for years in receiving migrants and advocacy for foreigners; Amnesty International France; Avocats pour la défense des droits des étrangers (L’ADDE); L’Association nationale d’assistance aux frontières pour les étrangers (L’Anafé); Médecins du Monde; Médecins Sans Frontières; and Secours Catholique Caritas France.