LONDON – France is beefing up its southern border security with 150 police personnel in response to a spike in migrants from Libya and Tunisia to enter the country via Italy, according to The Times.
Migrants crossing the Mediterranean use Ventimiglia, Italy’s border town, to enter France, via mountain routes or swimming the short distance to Menton, France.
This year, about 40,000 migrants have crossed the Mediterranean from North Africa into Italy, up from 9,500 in 2022.
The vast majority of immigrants arrive in Libya and Tunisia, with the latter functioning as a transit hub for migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa.
This year, 661 migrants have drowned while making the perilous trek, which is commonly undertaken in flimsy metal dinghies.
As economic downturn and drought afflict significant regions of Africa, Italian authorities fear that migration numbers may rise further, prompting France to beef up border security in the south.
On the Italian island of Lampedusa, 2,700 migrants are being kept in a 400-person capacity detention cell.
This comes after over 1,000 people arrived on the island on Wednesday through 20 different vessels.
“The center is holding 400 unaccompanied minors, many from West Africa, including some under 10 years old,” said Save the Children spokesperson Giovanna Di Benedetto.
“Some of them have been in the center for a month because there aren’t enough spaces on the mainland for them.”
“They are the most vulnerable, yet they are the most vulnerable here.”