Four minors aged 15-16 apprehended by border police in Ventimiglia are believed to be part of a group of migrants who had left a reception center in the countryside of Isola Sant'Antonio, some 50 kilometers away.
Police and immigration authorities in the city of Tortona, Piedmont, believe that four minors (aged 15-16) identified on Tuesday, February 14, by border police in Ventimiglia could be part of a group of a dozen migrants who fled a temporary reception center in Isola Sant'Antonio near Tortona.
Officials are waiting for the final results of the investigation to confirm this hypothesis.
Cooperative says 'it could be them'
The minors could be part of the group, said on the phone Marino Pianezze, a representative of the cooperative Alpi del Mare (based in Mondovì Cuneo), which also manages the facility Isola Sant'Antonio.
"They did not return" to the facility "over a number of days last week; some left alone, some in pairs," others in small groups, he explained.
"Unfortunately, though it is unpleasant, it happens. They arrive exhausted after a difficult journey. They recover physically and, as soon as they feel well enough, they leave voluntarily to look for relatives in the rest of Europe, from France to Germany, following a dream," he added.
'Center is not prison, we can only file a report when guests decide to leave'
The center, one of Italy's Centri di acccoglienza straordinaria (CAS) for temporary reception, was set up in August in the countryside of Isola Sant'Antonio (Alessandria) which borders with the province of Pavia.
"This is not a prison", said Pianezze, explaining that when CAS guests ask to leave, even just to take a walk through the town, "we don't say no."
"If they decide to leave, we can only report it", he noted.
"They aren't afraid to walk, distance is a relative thing for them. In fact, when we welcome them, we give them a high visibility safety vest. Those who cross the sea are certainly not scared to walk.
"They consider Lampedusa to be close; going to Paris to work is normal. Phones and computers connect them to the rest of the world," he concluded.
Out of the 25 assigned guests, the CAS of Isola Sant'Antonio is currently hosting 15 young boys from Sudan and Guinea.
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