VENTIMIGLIA, Italy (AP) — Police at Italy’s Mediterranean border with France forcibly removed a few dozen African migrants who have been camping out for days in hopes of continuing their journeys farther north, a violent scene Italy is using to show that Europe needs to do something about the migrant crisis.
Some migrants held onto signposts and others tried to resist being loaded onto a Red Cross bus brought in to clear them from the Ventimiglia border crossing. Migrants on the rocks jutting out into the sea were left alone, with police apparently unwilling to move into a more treacherous location.
The migrants, mostly from Sudan and Eritrea, have been camped out for five days after French border police refused to let them cross. They have refused to leave, saying they want to continue to find family members further north.
Italian Interior Minster Angelino Alfano, arriving Tuesday at an EU interior ministers’ meeting in Luxembourg, said the scenes from Ventimiglia were a “slap in the face to Europe” and proof that migrants don’t want to stay in Italy.
Italy, which has borne the brunt of rescuing migrants at sea and providing initial assistance, is demanding that other European countries take in the migrants and let them apply for asylum elsewhere.
Under EU rules, would-be refugees arriving in Italy from Libya are supposed to be fingerprinted and apply for asylum here since it’s the first EU country where they land. Many new migrants, however, prefer to slip through Italy without being officially registered so they can head to destinations further north where they might find better job opportunities while their asylum claims are processed.
The French Interior Ministry has reinforced border controls over the past few weeks due to an influx of migrants. Austria also increased its border surveillance, though those measures ended Monday.
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