STORY HIGHLIGHTS


Migrants flow to France-Italy cross border

CNC
Added On October 12, 2017

For two years now, the Migrant Crisis has shaken Europe -- as millions of people from Africa and the Middle East, flee to the continent, searching for a better life. 
 
Today we head to the tiny city of French city of Briancon, where a small band of volunteers are doing whatever they can to help.
 
LIFESTYLES has more.
 
Briancon is a small city of 12,000 people, in southeast France. 
 
Nestled 1300 meters up in the Alps, it is France's highest city. 
 
Despite the altitude and bad weather, it has become a magnet for migrants.
 
Most of them arrive on foot, braving the last 10 kilometers, over mountains, from the Italian border.
 
Michelle Andre Verron is a volunteer who works at the city's refugee reception center. 
 
She says that since spring this year, the number of illegal immigrants arriving from Italy to Briancon has surged. 
 
In previous years, the center would see a few dozen migrants a month. 
 
However, in this July alone, 1,500 passed through.
 
SOUNDBITE: MICHELLE ANDRE VERRON, Volunteer, Reception Center 
"For the moment, they arrive between 10 per day to 25, 30, 40, it depends on the days, many during the week-end." 
 
Michelle says 80 percent of migrants are minors. 
 
They include 15-year-old Guinean boy Moussa, who is currently being housed by volunteers in Briancon. 
 
Having survived a shipwreck in the Mediterranean Sea, Moussa struggled his way to cross the border between Italy and France.
 
Being traumatized by the experience, Moussa couldn't share more about himself, however, his friend, who is also a minor migrant, opened up.
 
SOUNDBITE: AFRICAN MINOR REFUGEE 
"In our place, in Africa …(cry)…in Africa, people don't trust us, many people don't…we went through the difficulties to arrive in Europe, we were maltreated, our parents were far away, people put us into prison, beat us, abused us, but the family can't even go somewhere else to borrow money and save us from prison,  now when we are here, all is possible in life, the living condition in Africa is hard we are here, we want our lives to change, the difficulties in Libya…so we came here, but we are not liked by the government here, so it is not easy,  although here there are many good people who saw we wanted to enter here, we were ambushed on the road, there were good people who considered us as citizens, they took us and brought us here, we were chased by police, we found ourselves in bad situations whatsoever, we had problems like this…but still we see, it is not good for us here, we think somebody… ."
 
In the reception center, volunteers assist the refugees however they can.Such as helping them arrive to the destination they applied for.
 
SOUNDBITE: Michelle Andre Verron, Volunteer, Reception Center  
"This is the train ticket for tonight at 21:30h, in front." 
 
Michelle said there is a no governmental aid in finance or human resources. All the work is carried out by a non-governmental humanitarian association called "All Migrants".
 
SOUNDBITE: MICHELLE ANDRE VERRON, Volunteer, Reception Center
"It will be good if we had some help from the government, because we do the work of the government." 
 
Stephanie Besson, is a coordinator for the group. She is worried about the situation, espcially as the cold season draws in. 
 
SOUNDBITE: STEPHANIE BESSON, Coordinator, "All Migrant"
"Actually there are many migrants arriving by train, they are in the street in Bardonnecchia, they make numerous attempts to pass the mountain, sometimes they are lost, sometimes they are brought back, so they are exhausted, they are not equipped, they are cold and hungry."
 
Without active assistance from the state and coordinated action among the EU members, the humanitarian association is facing enormous challenges. 
 
SOUNDBITE: STEPHANIE BESSON, Coordinator, "All Migrant" 
"The big challenge is to remain motivated, not to exhaust ourselves and not to lose hope in the face of people who are humans and sometimes we have no solution to give them, we make advocacy against Dublin because in fact there are the Dublin Regulation that acts as a real barrier, people can not express themselves and say why they want to seek asylum, we try to send them back to Italy, Italy can not do everything, so we also denounce the lack of solidarity among EU member states." 
 
The Dublin Regulation is one of the main issues for new refugees. 
 
Refugees arriving in Europe can only apply for asylum in the first European country they arrive in. 
 
The regulation clearly creates inequality in the sharing of responsibilities among EU countries, making the refugees the biggest victims.
 
SOUNDBITE: GERARD FROMM, Mayor of Briancon
"The first problem is Europe, which has not been able to coordinate in order to manage the issue of migrant, whether we want it or not, immigration will take place. Today there are tens of thousands of people in Africa dying of starvation or will die of starvation, so the problem exits, there are people who live in countries where there are problems of repression and problems of violence, politically violent that make them do not want to stay in their countries, these people they will come anyway, so we have a job to do, we Europeans, especially French, to be able to together manage this problem."
 
Meeting with Filippo Grandi, president of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees earlier this week, French President Emmanuel Macron admitted that France had failed to honor commitment to receive refugees. 
 
Macron pledged to handle the issue with a "realistic" way, proposing to welcome 10,000 asylum seekers mainly from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Niger and Chad by 2019. 
 
He also stressed "the need for Europe to build a common area of protection and solidarity", and for a new European Asylum Office. 
 
Until then, the refugees in Briancon wait...