From file: A picture of migrants walking along the Roja river, near Ventimiglia, Italy northwest, towards the French border, June 26 2017 | Photo: Chiara Carenini /ANSA
From file: A picture of migrants walking along the Roja river, near Ventimiglia, Italy northwest, towards the French border, June 26 2017 | Photo: Chiara Carenini /ANSA

An Afghan girl suffering from shock was assisted by Turin's Regina Margherita children's hospital on Saturday. It is thought the girl was pushed back with other migrants on the border between Italy and France by French police last week.

A girl who fled Afghanistan began suffering a kind of post-traumatic shock, reliving her experience of war and terror in her home country after she and her family were among a group of Afghan migrants pushed back by French police last week in the Monginervo forest between France and Italy.

The shock was too intense for the ten-year-old girl, for whom seeing uniforms and weapons in the dark of the mountains reminded her of a bomb that had injured her in her home country when she was seven.

The medical staff at Turin's Regina Margherita children's hospital examined her and calmed her down prior to releasing her.

The prosecutors office for juvenile issues is assessing whether any crimes were committed.

"We are not surprized by mistreatment by the French police. We have received several reports," the prosecutor's office said, noting the seriousness of the situation on the border between Italy and France.

Mother's account

Migrant flows have changed in recent months and increasing numbers of families have been using the routes in the area, associations working in the mountains between Italy and France say.

A few days before the incident, the Afghan girl had been evicted from a squat in Oulx, in the upper Valle di Susa, where she had found shelter with the help of an international anarchist group while waiting to cross the border.

Between Thursday night and Friday, March 26 morning, on the paths of Monginevro with other Afghan families, she was pushed back by the French Gendarme.

"We were on the path when French police arrived. They surrounded us and yelled at us to stop. And I heard shots being fired...," the girl's mother told Red Cross workers who, after the pushback, took them to the Massi di Oulx shelter in Turin's upper Valle di Susa (Susa Valley).

The girl was stiff and could not talk or move and a neuropsychiatrist examined her and decided to hospitalize her as a precaution.

Reports were made to the Turin police station and initial inquiries and information exchanges were made. The French police deny that shots were fired to stop the migrants.

Girl hosted by a family

Between Saturday and Sunday, the Afghan girl spent the night with a family from the Valle di Susa along with her father, mother, and three younger siblings.

Their intention is to reach Germany, where some of their relatives live.

The 10-year-old girl spoke to investigators and told them what happened in the night between Thursday and Friday in the forests on the Italian border. The little girl did not mention at that time any shots being fired - as she had initially stated - but only armed men in uniform.

The girl sustained head injuries when she was seven from a bomb and it seems she was triggered by the scene at the border.

What exactly happened is not yet clear, but NGO Rainbow4Africa chief Paolo Narcisi, who has been working with refugees using the Val di Susa to get to France for years, said that "no human being should be subjected to treatment that harms their dignity."

A priest, Luigi Chiampo, known for rescuing migrants on the Alpine route added, "at the moment we are hosting many families. We are keeping a hold on the situation but the situation is very difficult."

 

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