As France Reinforces Border, ‘Massive Droves’ of Migrants Reach Italy

Around 60 mainly Tunisian migrants and a group of French and Italian activists demonstrate in front of the train station of the Italian border town of Ventimiglia after France cancelled trains due to cross the border to thwart migration demonstrations.

Over the weekend, some 7,200 new migrants reached Italian shores just as France announced tighter border controls with Italy to make sure no asylum-seekers arrive into the country illegally.

Immigration figures for May show that a record 19,819 people arrived into Italy by sea during the month, surpassing the already high numbers from 2015. Italian refugee welcome centers are reportedly strained with a total of 119,294 persons presently housed throughout the nation, up 16,000 from last year.

As migrants are being distributed throughout the regions of Italy, authorities are seeking new locations to ease the tension on areas that have received the greatest numbers.

At the same time, the southern region of Puglia is seeing the first arrivals of migrants who have charted a new route to reach the Italian peninsula, crossing the Mediterranean from Turkey, Greece and Albania.

Italian authorities have reported that Albanian drug traffickers have begun offering their transportation services to migrants desperate to reach Italy, using their knowledge of sea routes to shuttle their passengers across the Adriatic Sea to ports along the Puglia sea coast.

Current estimates suggest that 2016 see the highest numbers of migrants in Italy’s recent history, surpassing the high-water mark of 170,100 migrants arriving in 2014. Since Libya’s socio-political situation remains unresolved, authorities are predicting some 200,000 arrivals in the course of the year in progress.

Italians fear that unlike other years, the majority of the migrants arriving into Italy during 2016 will end up staying, as borders out of the country have been fortified. Early Tuesday morning France security officials successfully thwarted an attempt by a group of some 50 migrants to storm the border from Italy into France at the area of Ventimiglia.

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has come under attack from what many Italians view as an ineffective and ill-conceived immigration policy, to which Renzi has accused the political right of fear-mongering at a time when calm is needed. On Tuesday, the prime minister suggested that regarding migrant arrivals “the numbers before us are different from the ones reported,” though he failed to present different figures.

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