The shelter in Oulx cleared by Italian police on March 23, 2021 | Photo: ANSA/Ufficio Stampa Carabinieri
The shelter in Oulx cleared by Italian police on March 23, 2021 | Photo: ANSA/Ufficio Stampa Carabinieri

In northern Italy, authorities have evicted migrants from a shelter set up by activists. The occupied building had been turned into a center to assist migrants trying to cross the border to France.

A group of roughly 50 migrants was evicted from an occupied building near the Italian-French border on Tuesday, March 23. The operation was carried out by Italian police, firefighters, Red Cross workers and Civil Protection officials.

Anarchists had occupied the former roadhouse near the Italian town of Oulx in December 2018 and turned it into a shelter for migrants attempting to cross the border to France through mountain trails. The shelter was part of a campaign called "Briser les frontières" (breaking borders) promoted by a group of activists against French immigration policies and alleged pushbacks.

Migrants taken to reception facilities

When police forces arrived, 53 foreigners -- including several families with children -- were staying at the shelter, sources close to the activists said. Many of the people staying at the center were reportedly Afghan nationals.

"Unfortunately, there is no longer a place where travelers can stop and refresh themselves before resuming their trip" to France, the sources said.

The migrants were taken to hosting facilities in Oulx, Susa and Bardonecchia.

The prefecture said the operation "restored legality" and "dignity to migrants", who were staying at the facility in "degrading conditions".

The center had "run-down power systems, blocked exits, gas canisters", the prefecture said in a statement. It also mentioned "criminal incidents", possibly referring to a brawl between two migrants during which a man was stabbed last January.

Activists charged

When Italian police raided the building, thirteen European foreigners from various countries -- thought to be part of the activist group -- were at the site. They were charged with "invading buildings."

The security councilor of Piedmont, the northern Italian province where the raid took place, Fabrizio Rizza praised the operation.

"It is the authorities' duty to monitor activities promoted by antagonist groups, which are often dangerous for those immigrants who are trying to cross the border in any type of weather," he said. Rizza belongs to the far-right League party, which espouses staunchly anti-migrant policies.

Meanwhile, eighteen activists were indicted by Turin magistrates on Tuesday at a preliminary hearing in a case concerning the activity of "Briser les frontières". The activists were charged with violating private property (for occupying the abandoned rooms of a church) and occupying the shelter near Oulx.


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