Migrants being transferred to Campo Roja in Ventimiglia during the emergency in summer 2016 | Photo:  ARCHIVE PHOTO ANSA
Migrants being transferred to Campo Roja in Ventimiglia during the emergency in summer 2016 | Photo: ARCHIVE PHOTO ANSA

The prefecture of Imperia announced the closure of Campo Roja, the reception center managed by the Red Cross in Ventimiglia, at the Italian border with France.

The Campo Roja reception center in Ventimiglia officially ended its activities on July 31 -- one day after the prefecture of Imperia communicated the closure to the Red Cross, which manages the camp. 

The last 30 migrants at the center were transferred to an extraordinary reception center in the province of Imperia. Authorities said that in the coming days, a joint visit will be conducted with Tecnifor, a company that provides the prefabricated units in the camp. The visit will aim to evaluate the state and conservation of the structures used as housing and showers for the migrants. 

Opened in July 2016, at the height of the migrant emergency, the camp at Campo Roja housed more than 750 migrants. The numbers drastically reduced over time due to the decrease in arrivals. The center closed to new arrivals beginning May 6, in order to avoid possible coronavirus infections.

Opened to respond to the migrant emergency of 2015 

Campo Roja, in Bevera in the province of Ventimiglia, was initially designed to host up to 180 men in 30 housing units. It was opened by the prefecture of Imperia to respond to the migrant emergency of 2015. Initial camp rules allowed foreigners to stay for a maximum of seven days. 

The camp was outfitted with showers, restrooms, a field kitchen, and a religious area. It was expanded with new housing units to accommodate the large number of migrants who were asking to be housed there, but there were only 360 beds at the facility. 

The emergency began in September 2016, when there were nearly 800 people sleeping and eating at the camp. In March 2017, the prefecture tightened the rules. In order to be housed at the camp, where a police station was set up alongside the Red Cross office, foreigners had to agree to be identified through digital fingerprints. 

In August 2017 a second expansion brought Campo Roja to accommodate about 500 foreigners. For the first time since its opening, the camp would also host women and children. 

Upon learning that children would be hosted at the camp, Princess Caroline of Monaco, president of the World Association of Children's Friends, donated a children's play area in April 2018. 

News tied to the camp 

At Campo Roja, stories of welcome and integration took place, but there were also sad occurrences. 

On August 6, 2016, near the facility, Genoa police officer Diego Turra died of a heart attack just after clashing with protesters from the No Borders movement. 

On the night of January 4, 2017, a Syrian citizen born in Libya, 27-year-old Mohamad Hani, was killed when he was hit by a scooter after climbing the metal grate separating the centre from the road. The driver of the scooter, 66-year-old Luciano Guglielmi, found Hani in front of him in the dark and was unable to avoid hitting him. The accident also cost Guglielmi his life; he died of his injuries in hospital on January 12, 2017. 

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