Migrants and police at the border between France and Italy in Claviere | Credit: ANSA/ALESSANDRO DI MARCO
Migrants and police at the border between France and Italy in Claviere | Credit: ANSA/ALESSANDRO DI MARCO

Italy dispatched police forces to the border with France after the governments of both countries clashed over an incident of migrants being dumped in Italian woods by French police.

The incident caused a stir last week when reports erupted of two migrants, who had crossed the border into France, were returned to Italy by French police officers. The migrants were driven across the border at Claviere and were left in an Italian wood.

In response, Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini called France an "international disgrace" and accused Paris of hypocrisy by refusing to take in a fair share of thousands of migrants who have reached Italy by boat since 2014, Reuters reports.

Escalating argument

The French authorities acknowledged that its police had crossed the border and that the incursion had been "an error."

Salvini dismissed the explanation and demanded to know the identities of the two persons. "What happened in Claviere represents an unprecedented offense against our country … President Macron can not pretend nothing has happened," Salvini said. After tweeting a video, overlaid with threatening music, that showed video footage of the supposed illegal immigrants being driven to Italy, Salvini announced the dispatch of police forces to patrol the border, an unprecedented move.

Macron has denounced Salvini’s anti-migrant policies in the past. In August, the French President called himself the "main opponent" in Europe to nationalists like Salvini.

Tougher controls

However, France has been policing its borders more vigorously and looks to return to Italy irregular migrants. Migrants seeking asylum in Europe have to apply in the first European country they set foot in. Many migrants crossing into France from Italy are legally supposed to apply for asylum there – they risk being returned if they apply in another country.

Claviere, the alpine municipality that borders France, belongs to the French administrative department Hautes-Alpes. The department's prefecture said that the return of asylum seekers was part of "normal procedures" that had been agreed by French and Italian police. The prefecture added that the procedure was also backed the EU Dublin regulation.


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