Ventimiglia, a small Italian town of around 23.000 inhabitants, is located on the border between Italy and the rich French area of the Cote d’Azur. Like Calais and Melilla, Ventimiglia is one of the “checkpoints” (Tazzioli, Garelli, 2018) of internal EU control and management system on migration flows.

At the international conference on climate change (Cop21) held in Paris in June 2015, France sounded the alarm about renewed terrorist attacks. At the end of 2015, a state of emergency was officially declared as a result of the terrorist attacks in Paris. This was suspended on 1 November 2017, but its provisions have remained in force thanks to new anti-terrorism law passed by the French government in 2017 (L.n. 1510) (Giliberti, 2018).

Like other similar contexts (Cassidy, Yuval-Davis, Wemyss), Ventimiglia first experienced a ‘de-bordering’ process – thanks to the Schengen acquis – followed by a new ‘re-bordering’ process related to the migration crisis. The ‘return of the border’ has resulted in a greater presence of security forces on both sides of the border, an increase in the number of people blocked in Ventimiglia due to rejections at the French border side, in the creation of the Roja Camp (2016) run by the Red Cross, in the development of the decompression strategy by the Italian Government, and, last but not least, in the development of informal camps built by transiting migrants and their constant evictions by Italian authorities [see also Border Deaths].

During recent years, Ventimiglia has become a ‘clearing house’ for all those who have been stranded during the border crossing between Italy and France and for the various people expelled from the Italian asylum system (Interview with J., social-worker, 02/12/2018). Different people pass through here: those who want to go to France, those who want to go to Switzerland or Germany but had problems in crossing other borders (e.g. the Brenner); but also those who have lost their place in the asylum system after receiving an application rejection (graph) and people transferred back to Italy under the Dublin Regulation (graph). The Roja Camp is currently the only one in Italy to be open not only to asylum seekers but also to migrants who do not (or may not) apply for asylum or those who, for the most diverse reasons, no longer have access to any public support.

The structuring of the border in Ventimiglia went hand in hand with the construction of a multiform support network, at both local and international level.


Cassidy, K., Yuval-Davis, N., & Wemyss, G. (2018). Debordering and everyday (re) bordering in and of Dover: Post-borderland borderscapes. Political Geography, 66, pp. 171-179.

Giliberti, L. (2018). La criminalizzazione della solidarietà ai migranti in Val Roja: note dal campo. Mondi Migranti, (3) pp. 161-181.

Tazzioli, M., Garelli, G. (2018). Containment beyond detention: The hotspot system and disrupted migration movements across Europe. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, pp. 1-19.