French migrant center at 500% capacity as ‘exhausted’ volunteers threaten to close its doors in protest

By Thomas Brooke
2 Min Read

Staff at a migrant reception center in the French Alpine city of Briançon plan to shut the facility in protest at government inaction after the center was overwhelmed with an influx of new arrivals.

The Terrasses Solidaires center, which is the first facility migrants come across when taking the migratory route through the Alps from Italy, catered to 326 people on Monday night, more than 500 percent above its 60-person capacity, and aid workers have revealed they can no longer accommodate the growing influx of migrants.

“These migrant routes have always existed, but their use has intensified since 2016 and even more so since this spring,” Luc Marchello, a refugee aid worker, told Radio France Internationale (RFI).

To cope with the increasing demand, many migrants are sleeping on mattresses in corridors and meeting rooms, while others are forced to sleep outside in tents.

“The situation is getting too complicated. The volunteers are exhausted,” Marjolaine Bert, administrator at Terrasses Solidaires, told BFM TV.

According to workers at the facility, the majority of new arrivals originate from Sub-Saharan Africa and have traveled across the Mediterranean to Italy before heading for northwestern Europe.

Just last week, a fight broke out at the facility, which resulted in two French firefighters suffering several bruises after being punched and kicked. Florent Crouhy, the local public prosecutor, confirmed a 22-year-old Moroccan national was arrested and placed in police custody for the assault. He was consequently sentenced to six months in prison on Monday.

Staff at the reception center have reportedly called for greater assistance from local authorities and the government, but these requests have fallen upon deaf ears, leaving volunteers with no choice but to shut the facility in protest.

It is understood that those currently being housed in the facility will be found alternative accommodation before the shelter is closed.

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