Migrants subject to abysmal conditions in Italy

Photo credit: Mohammad Ghannam /MSF

TMP – 09/10/2017

More than 700 migrants, mainly from Sudan, Eritrea and other African countries, are living in unhealthy and abusive conditions in the Italian town of Ventimiglia, near the French border, research by the Refugee Rights Data Project (RRDP) has revealed.

According to the research, the majority of the migrants are living in conditions that are “wholly inadequate”, with an “acute” lack of clean drinking water or sanitized accommodations.
Marta Welander, executive director of the RRDP, told The Independent newspaper that the accumulation of issues facing migrants in Ventimiglia was “terrifying”, and said it was “one of the worst” research locations she had been to.

“Of course the Greek islands are also horrendous and at breaking point, but what’s so alarming about this situation is the lack of available services,” she added.
Migrants in Ventimiglia, a city labeled by many the “Italian Calais”, attested that they are sleeping rough under bridges and by the riverbank; drinking water from the river where many go to bathe; experiencing abuse and discrimination by police and residents; have limited access to healthcare; and risk their lives to reach France, walking over cliffs or through motorway tunnels.
Out of the 150 migrants interviewed during RRDP’s research, more than 60% said they had experienced health problems since arriving in Italy. Only 15% had access to medical care and 70% of those with access to food could only have one meal per day. More than two thirds (70%) said they do not feel safe due to the absence of security measures.
The research also found police brutality to be a major threat to the migrants, with more than half (53 percent) of respondents having experienced violence at the hands of Italian and French police at the border.
The dangers and health risks for migrants on the Italian border are more severe than they were in the Jungle camp before it was demolished by the French authorities in October last year, Welander noted.
In a report released in August of this year Médécins Sans Frontières (MSF) noted that the living conditions in Italy are putting migrants in a precarious situation as the country’s reception system is still in an emergency mode. MSF concluded that the needs of the most vulnerable migrants are not being met.