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Italian police once again push back migrants at French border

African migrants wait at an Italy-French border crossing in Ventimiglia, June, 13, 2015. (AFP photo)

Italian police have once again pushed back a group of African migrants who have been holding a sit-in at a border crossing to France.

Italian police forces moved in on Saturday to control a group of 200 African migrants who had refused earlier police attempts to make them leave the border area.

The migrants, mostly from the African countries of Eritrea and Sudan and lacking legal documentation, have been attempting to cross the border, but have been stopped by Italian police and French border guards.

The Africans are now stuck in Ventimiglia, an Italian town about five kilometers (three miles) away from the French border. The migrants are waiting there for officials to decide on their status. They reached there after being rescued at sea in southern Italy. They now seek to go to Switzerland, Germany and the UK, via France.

The migrants are resisting police efforts to turn them back.

The French Interior Ministry has reinforced border controls over the last few weeks due to the huge influx of migrants.

Meanwhile, Italian authorities say the border closures are causing many problems at traveling stations crowded with migrants who are not receiving sufficient help.

Migrants, mainly from Ethiopia, Somalia and Eritrea, stand outside a migration center at the Tiburtina train station in Rome, Italy, June 13, 2015. (AFP photo)


In Milan, 150 migrants slept outside the main station, according to the Progetto Arca charity. Many more migrants are spread elsewhere as officials remain undecided how to shelter them.

“Now we have to resolve the problem as regards the refugees to have a situation that doesn’t give the image of people sleeping on the ground without the assistance we had hoped for,” Milan Mayor Giuliano Pisapia told reporters at the Central Station.

European countries face an influx of migrants, mostly from African and Middle Eastern countries coming in through the sea.

Last week, the United Nations (UN) reported that 103,000 people have crossed the Mediterranean Sea to Europe so far this year.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says that, since the beginning of 2015, some 54,000 migrants have reached the shores of Italy, 48,000 have reached Greece, 920 migrants have landed in Spain and 91 in Malta.


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