France boosts border protection with 150 police amid migrant surge



France is boosting its southern border protection with 150 police officers amid a surge in migrants leaving Libya and Tunisia to cross into the country from Italy, The Times reported.

Migrants who cross the Mediterranean are using Italy’s border town of Ventimiglia to enter France, traversing mountain passes or swimming the short distance to the French town of Menton.

Almost 40,000 migrants have crossed the Mediterranean into Italy from North Africa this year, up from 9,500 in 2022.

The large majority of arrivals are leaving from Libya and Tunisia, with the latter serving as the exit point for migrants from sub-Saharan Africa.

This year, 661 migrants have drowned while attempting the dangerous journey, often on small metal dinghies.

As economic decline and drought ravage large parts of Africa, Italian authorities fear that migration numbers could climb further, with France preventively boosting its border protection in the south.

On the Italian island of Lampedusa, 2,700 migrants are being held in a center with a capacity of 400. This comes after more than 1,000 people arrived on the island on 20 separate vessels on Wednesday.

Save the Children spokesperson Giovanna Di Benedetto said: “The center is holding 400 unaccompanied minors, many from West Africa, including some under 10 years old.

“Some of them have been in the center for a month because there has been a reduction in spaces for them on the mainland. “They are the most vulnerable yet here they are the most exposed to risk.”—AN