This photo was posted by the Alpine rescue service in the area of Colle della Scala in Val di Susa, Italy, after one of their teams rescued a group of migrants who were trying to cross the border with France | Photo: Colle della Scala
This photo was posted by the Alpine rescue service in the area of Colle della Scala in Val di Susa, Italy, after one of their teams rescued a group of migrants who were trying to cross the border with France | Photo: Colle della Scala

A team of volunteers and a cultural mediator will be working at the Italian border with France in order to try to dissuade migrants from crossing into France through dangerous mountain paths covered in snow.

The team will be active in the northern mountain area of Alta Val di Susa in northwestern Italy near Turin. Their mission: to dissuade migrants from crossing into France through dangerous trails covered in snow. Earlier this month, a migrant who trekked the mountain route at nine months pregnant, died after being captured at the French border.

The volunteers and mediator will start operating "as soon as possible", said organizers, including the mayors of Claviere, Bardonecchia and Oulx in the Alta Valle di Susa area, after a meeting in Turin with the prefect's office.

The mission: "To convince them to remain in Italy"

The initiative is part of a project of assistance coordinated by the municipality of Bardonecchia and backed by the prefect's office. Claviere Mayor Franco Capria said that "it is important to make travelers understand that, in spite of the critical situation, the Italian system can give more help and guarantees." Capria believes that migrants in Italy have "more rights and are better hosted" than in France.

Oulx Mayor Paolo De Marchis said that a cultural mediator, a volunteer for the Association for Juridical Studies on Immigration (Asgi) would try to talk to migrants "to convince them to remain in Italy." Starting in the next few days, there would be a mobile unit "to make sure they have someone who listens to them and provides assistance."

Criticism by activists: "An inhuman anti-migration policy"

The snowy paths of Val di Susa are the ''roads of desperation'' taken by refugees who attempt to cross the Alps and reach France through an area hit by exceptional snowstorms this year, said French association Tous Migrants. The migrants and those who help them face "an inhuman anti-migration policy," the French group said. A mountain church hosts migrants In Claviere, an activists' network called Briser Les Frontieres last Thursday started using the basement of a parish church to host and assist asylum seekers.

What happened to the pregnant migrant who died after trekking in the snow?

Claviere is the last Italian municipality before the French border. On March 10, 31-year old migrant Beauty, along with her husband and their two children aged two and four, was walking along a trail covered in snow at an altitude of 2,000 meters. A volunteer, a French alpine guide, who now risks a five-year jail sentence for violating immigration laws, rescued her. He took her to his car to drive her to the nearest hospital in Briancon. Along the way, he was stopped by French police. The French security officials left the woman in front of the train station of Bardonecchia, Italy, where she was picked up by volunteers from the association Rainbow4Africa. Beauty was subsequently taken to the Sant'Anna Hospital in Turin. A week later, Beauty died after giving birth to a baby boy. 

 

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