French police deployed at the border crossing of Ponte San Ludovico, between French city of Menton and the Italian city of Ventimiglia | Photo: ANSA/Luca Zennaro
French police deployed at the border crossing of Ponte San Ludovico, between French city of Menton and the Italian city of Ventimiglia | Photo: ANSA/Luca Zennaro

The Italian interior ministry has said that pushbacks of migrants at the French border have been "in sharp decline in recent days." This comes after the mayor of an Italian border town claimed that French officers were bringing migrants back to the Italian border, despite the coronavirus emergency.

Sources at the Italian interior ministry said on Saturday that Italian border police are placing "maximum attention on the Italy-France border and all border crossings" and that in recent days, "no informal migrant readmission requests were made by French authorities."

The interior ministry sources said migrant pushbacks from France are "in sharp decline in recent days", after the mayor of Ventimiglia claimed on Saturday that despite the coronavirus emergency, French authorities were continuing to bring migrants back to the Italian border. The mayor claimed that the migrants would then scatter throughout the city. The city of Ventimiglia is located right next to the border with France in northern Italy.

Migrant pushbacks inspite of corona crisis?

"Despite the pandemic, French authorities continue to accompany migrants they find in their national territory to the Italian border," said mayor Gaetano Scullino on March 21. "Migrants then enter on foot and scatter throughout the city, without being checked and above all without knowing, if they too like us, are carriers of the virus."

"I will ask the prefect to intervene to prevent migrants being pushed into Italy and then left on their own, because from the border, they must be taken to reception centers and from there they must not go out any more," Scullino said.

Salvini says government must take action

Former interior minister Matteo Salvini also commented on the situation. "While we are asking Italians to stay shut in at home, in Ventimiglia they are denouncing the arrival of illegals accompanied by French authorities," Salvini said. "These are migrants who are then lost without a trace and evade all checks, starting with health ones. We are appealing to the interior ministry to solve the problem, and to the foreign ministry to complain to Paris." 
 

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