The mayors of Ventimiglia, Vallecrosia and Camporosso, towns in Liguria near the border with France, expressed their refusal to open a new transit center for migrants in their areas, a proposal promoted by the Italian interior ministry.
The mayors of Ventimiglia, Vallecrosia and Camporosso in the region of Liguria in a video conference on January 28 opposed the possibility of opening a transit center for migrants at the border with France.
Participants in the video conference included the prefect of Imperia Alberto Intini; the head of the Italian interior ministry's civil liberties and immigration department, prefect Michele Di Bari; the governor of the province of Imperia, Domenico Abbo; and the chief of staff of the Region of Liguria, Matteo Cozzani.
The video conference was held to finalize a memorandum of understanding to choose a location for the center. Ventimiglia was ruled out from the list of possible sites.
The mayors' opposition
"We are astonished by the fact that it was assumed as a given that the Vallecrosia Waldensian House would make itself available to become a transit center," said Vallecrosia Mayor Armando Biasi.
"This planning took place without the mayor's knowledge. Vallecrosia is against this choice, because the Waldensian House is in a tight town center that is highly urbanized," Biasi said.
He said he contacted the national director of the Waldensians, who confirmed that he had never expressed availability for a transit center and was not in support of the idea.
Camporosso Mayor Davide Gibelli said he was also unaware of the memorandum of understanding. "Before expressing an opinion, we would need to know the content and the objectives of this memorandum," Gibelli said. "In Camporosso, moreover, there aren't any suitable spaces," he said.
Ventimiglia Mayor Gaetano Scullino said his administration is in favor of what the memorandum establishes, shared at the time with prefect Di Bari, which would be to build a migrant identification center in the province of Imperia, but "not in Ventimiglia territory because it has already paid a very high price."
Interior ministry working on deal for center in Ventimiglia
During the meeting, the interior ministry reiterated in a statement that it is working on a memorandum of understanding for building an identification and transit center in the border area of the province of Imperia that would serve the entire territory.
The facility would host small numbers and would aim to manage the transit of migrants to France and stabilize certain legal situations.
The interior ministry said during the meeting that "further steps forward have been taken in view of the signing of the memorandum, which will be followed by a public call for tenders to make the future facility operational. For a rapid signing of the memorandum, regional representative Cozzani stressed the need for the memorandum to be brought to the attention of the regional government, considering that a logistical solution to include in the memorandum draft has already been identified."
This proposal was particularly welcomed by the meeting's participants.
Prefect Di Bari reminded those present that the memorandum "is the start of a pathway that aims at full sharing with all involved parties, which comes from the need to govern a real problem felt by the entire territory."