Italian Border Town Swamped By Migrants

A migrant waits during the evacuation of the "Baobab" migrant reception centre next to the Tiburtina train station in Rome on December 4, 2015. The authorities of the Department for Social Policy of Rome announced on December 1, 2015 the evacuation of the reception centre. / AFP / ANDREAS SOLARO …

An Italian town on the Swiss border is being flooded with stranded migrants as Swiss authorities refuse to let them through.

The Italian town of Como, near the famous lake of the same name, is being inundated by migrants seeking to get through to Switzerland and Germany. The town, which is near the Swiss canton of Ticino, has been left stuck with hundreds of migrants from Africa and elsewhere as up to 1,300 migrants have tried to illegally enter Switzerland in July alone with two thirds being rejected at the border reports Swiss paper Blick.

Due to it’s proximity to Lake Como, Como is a tourist town, full of gelato and shopping areas. The climate of the town in July is rapidly changing due to the influx of migrants who have travelled from North Africa and up the Italian mainland in a bid to reach western European countries like Germany.

Director of the Catholic charity Caritas, Roberto Bernasconi, describes the situation in dire terms. According to him there are hundreds of migrants stranded in the town and around the train station. He claims that most of them have been rejected attempting to cross the border into Switzerland while many more are new arrivals waiting to attempt it themselves. Some migrants have even tried to sneak through a railway tunnel only to be caught by police in what Bernasconi calls a “perilous undertaking.”

At present Caritas takes care of around 2,000 migrants in the  diocese of Como. Bernasconi said that it can take, “two to two and a half years,” for an asylum procedure to be completed. The Caritas reception centre in Como is already home to some 300 migrants who Bernasconi says mostly come from African countries like Mali, Nigeria and the African coast. The claims are consistent with the huge flow of migrants from North Africa who come in the thousands on a daily basis to Sicily and mainland Italy.

the character of the migrants has also changed in recent months Bernasconi said. While many of the early migrants in the migrant crisis, according to him, were educated Syrians, the new wave come from much less educated backgrounds. This lack of education, he says, means that it will be much harder to integrate them into the labour force or even teach them the language as many don’t even have the most basic educational abilities.

Since the inception of the EU-Turkey deal Italy has become the front line in the migrant crisis. Migrants have flooded into the southern island of Sicily leading some to believe it will cause a “catastrophe” while other migrants head north across the Italian mainland. Austria and other countries have warned that the borders with Italy could close due to the influx, which along with a looming banking crisis could be the largest problem the European Union has ever faced.


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