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French villagers ‘helping young migrants slip into country’, as professor who aided Eritrean women cleared in landmark case

By   /  January 12, 2017  /  Comments Off on French villagers ‘helping young migrants slip into country’, as professor who aided Eritrean women cleared in landmark case

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Young migrants are being hidden and sheltered by French villagers near the Italian border, who sometimes help them to slip undetected into the country.

At least 150 residents of several villages in the Roya valley, north-east of the French Riviera coast, have taken African and Middle Eastern teenagers into their homes “for humanitarian reasons”, local sources said.

Police arrested more than 36,000 migrants in the area last year, most of whom were sent back to Italy, prompting local people to form a support group called “Roya Citizenship”.

Migrants watch smoke rising from fires in the "Jungle" migrant camp in Calais, northern France, during a massive operation to clear the squalid settlement
Migrants watch smoke rising from fires in the “Jungle” migrant camp in Calais, northern France, during a massive operation to clear the squalid settlement CREDIT:  PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

One woman, identified only by the first name Sophie, said she had given shelter to two teenagers from Eritrea at her home in Saorge. “If the police come, I’ll say they’re underage,” she told the newspaper Le Parisien.

Many of the migrants in the area hope to settle in Britain where they say they have relatives or friends.

In a landmark judgment, a university professor from Nice who was arrested with three Eritrean women in his car was cleared of aiding illegal immigration on Friday. The court ruled that he had acted “to help persons in distress”.

Pierre-Alain Mannoni, 45, said he was taking the women to spend a night at his home and then planned to drive them to a railway station.

Cédric Herrou, 37, a farmer from the village of Breil-sur-Roya has been charged with helping dozens of illegal immigrants cross the border from Italy. A court is to rule next month.

Hundreds of migrants have reportedly returned to the Calais area since the “Jungle” camp in the town was closed in October.

Christian Salomé, of the Auberge des Migrants charity, said: “We’ve seen a few dozen and most are sleeping rough. Sometimes the police hand them over to child care officials.”

Migrant teenagers are also sleeping on the streets or staying in temporary shelters in Paris after fleeing from official centres around France.

It has emerged that 4,500 of the more than 7,000 migrants living at the camp were claiming monthly allowances of €360 (£308) each.

Many are believed to have used the money to pay people-smugglers to take them across the Channel, as they were living on food distributed by charities.

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  • Published: 6 months ago on January 12, 2017
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  • Last Modified: January 12, 2017 @ 12:29 pm
  • Filed Under: English, Insight

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