Growing numbers of Tunisians are arriving in the Italian border town of Ventimiglia (Vintimille), on the border with France, and are attempting to enter France. 3500 Tunisians have reportedly arrived in recent weeks. Most of the newly arriving Tunisians appear to have passed through Lampedusa in recent weeks and were then relocated elsewhere in Italy to relieve the overcrowding on the island. Many of the Tunisians arriving in Lampedusa have been very clear about their desire to continue on to France due to family or linguistic ties.
France has reinstituted some border controls in the area in an effort to block the entry of the Tunisians. Additional controls are being instituted within French territory in Menton and Nice. La Stampa reports that “[p]eople smugglers, who had largely disappeared when border checkpoints [in the Schengen area] were closed down, are now increasingly common. [Smugglers] seek out the migrants at the station [in Ventimiglia] and offer to take them to France…” Le Point suggests that “by discretely allowing illegal immigrants to arrive in Ventimiglia, Italy is hoping that Europe will wake up and share the burden. Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini on Wednesday criticised France for returning Tunisians to Italy after crossing the border, accusing France of a lack of solidarity.