The harbour town of Calais, in northern France, is the main access point for illegal travel routes headed to the United Kingdom. Thousands of migrants used to live here, in informal camps which they themselves had dubbed “the jungle”. The migrants’ objective was to stow away inside trucks and cross the English Channel, and the United Kingdom responded building a large wall on French territory to stop this flow. In October 2016 the French authorities started to dismantle the camps in order to move the migrants out.
At the beginning of 2015, the migration route leaving from Turkey and going through the Balkans acquired importance, with a transit of approximately 850,000 migrants in just one year. To interrupt this flow, an agreement has been reached between the European Union and Turkey. Furthermore, Bulgaria has constructed a barbed wire barrier, extending for 146 kilometres, on the border with Turkey.
The Leonardo Da Vinci airport of Fiumicino (Rome), the main international transit stop in Italy, is also used by migrants and asylum seekers, primarily from Maghreb, to enter the Schengen area. As they are lacking a travel visa, migrants are often sent back. According to the Association for Juridical Studies on Immigration, even Syrian women and children have been rejected from Fiumicino.
In February 2016 the Community of Sant’Egidio and the Federation of Waldensian Evangelical Churches started a program of humanitarian corridors, with the cooperation of the Italian government. Thanks to this program, asylum seekers can reach Italy by plane, thus avoiding the dangerous journey by sea. The project expects the entry of one thousand persons, for a total cost of 1.2 million euros.
The migration route through the Mediterranean Sea is the most lethal in the world. In 2015 only, 3763 migrants have died in the sea despite the rescue operations performed by state-coordinated operators and by private organisations.
The first barbed wire fencings were built around Ceuta and Melilla. Today, walls around European borders continue to increase: between Greece and Turkey, between Turkey and Bulgaria, in Hungary, in Poland, in Macedonia. The United Kingdom has started to build a wall on French territory, on the Calais harbour, to keep migrants from setting to sea illegally.
On the 20th of March 2016 the European Union reached an agreement with Turkey for the closure of the Balkan route, which in 2015 had been crossed by over 850 thousand migrants. In exchange for 6 billion euros, Ankara accepted to readmit on its territories all foreign citizens who had entered Europe from its coasts and who are not qualified to obtain asylum.