Between the village of Clavière, on the Italian side and Briançon, on the French side in the Montgenèvre pass, every day, men, families with children from Iran, Afghanistan, West Africa come to look for a better future. They cross this border in the cold, day and night after hours of walking without any equipment.
Volunteers, like Baptiste, from “Tous Migrants” come to their aid. With each marauding, they risk having trouble with the police on the spot.
“The idea is to help people, not to pass them on. So if you want all of that, it’s Italy. It’s when they arrived in France on their own, l The idea is to put them to safety. The border, it does like that. So there if a migrant is down there he is on the Italian side… it is considered as an aid to the passage… to avoid have problems with the law ” Baptiste explains.
Volunteers often encounter problems with the law. Yet they claim the right to shelter exiles who arrive frozen, hungry and sometimes injured by their journey. On the other side, there are the police who seek to escort migrants to the border.
A small victory took place for the associations since recently the administrative court of Marseille ruled in their favor. He suspended the order of the Hautes-Alpes prefect on the ban on providing assistance to migrants. The police and the military keep a close watch on marauders, migrants and journalists.
Welcome medical help
This help is provided by “Médecins Du Monde”. Frostbite, skin infections, insomnia, Dr Jean-Luc Pesle, who is a volunteer, sees all types of problems pass. He took care of a man from Iran three months ago as he was crossing Greece. He was run over by a heavy weight and operated on the spot. He continued his journey without medical follow-up. Today, he asks the doctor for a CT scan because he is worried:
“I’m making sure he’s breathing well. Tell him there’s no rush to have him scanned. Me, I’m going to do what I can do here with the pharmacy I have. ai, which is limited anyway but I think that for them it is important, they will be able to continue their journey. This little look at them, I think it is already not bad. Good Luck for your travel. ‘they have it is something that shows all their suffering “.
To deal with this suffering, there is not only Médecins du Monde on site. The Refuge Solidaire17 which is located about fifteen km from the Col de Montgenèvre welcomes migrants. This place is a former barracks of the Mountain CRS. Pauline who works in this place explains how it works.
“We give them food … This is the refectory, so this is where people eat, people sleep on mattresses on the floor, we try as a priority to provide a bed and a dormitory. We remain a place of transit. , people stay two or three days and then they leave “.
Human rights violations
Not all migrants who cross this border have the chance to make it to this refuge. Often the PAF, the border police take them to their premises.
During a marauding, the volunteers learned of the arrest of a family who had just crossed the border when Dr Jean-Luc Pesle wanted to provide them with first aid.
– “Hello, we learned that you had recovered a family. We are a health team. We found out that the PAF had recovered a family of migrants and I would like to know if we can examine them. I would like to do a little forcing They are entitled to it and it is not always done “.
After having waited a long time in the cold and just after the arrival of the Italian police, the response of the French police finally reaches the volunteers.
– “Maybe we’ll have some news there. There are the Italians who are arriving to pick up the family perhaps. They have the right to return”.
– “We can not go there, we do not know if they have asked for a doctor or not. In my opinion, I have a little doubt. I think we will not succeed”.
Dr Pesle is resigned but the marauding will continue despite everything. The Refuge Solidaire is supposed to close its doors in April, at the end of the winter break, at the request not of the volunteers, but of the community of commune of Briançonnais.