With the closure of the Swiss/Italian borders (hundreds are being removed daily from the international trains at Briga and returned to Domodossola - over 1,700 in recent weeks) non-European Union migrants can no longer traverse Switzerland then try to enter France. The Swiss will not permit a build-up of the kind of trouble afflicting Italian border crossing points where France (and Austria) are preventing entry for those who have been landed in Italy.
For the many people who work across the Swiss/Italian borders, commuting daily, all this kerfuffle is causing serious disruption in one of the most high-tech, economically vibrant and important areas of the EU. Obviously it has to stop; as well international, cross-European trains cannot be held up for hours, nor the Alpine tunnels and passes closed by anonymous threats of explosions and other damage to the trains and the railway infrastructure. The migrants cannot stop where there is no work for unskilled, transient people without even minimal knowledge let alone command of the languages spoken. They are on their way to the large settled communities of relatives and friends in France, the UK, Sweden and the Low Countries, where there is hope of finding work and assistance. It seems heartless for such European countries to deny the refugees access to their own people who have achieved some security and acceptance. Once there is a community of settled migrants there should be recognition that they remain linked to their place of origin by complex ties of kinship and affection and duty. Italy's problem with these migrants is not just the numbers and the depressed state of much of the Italian economy; there is the reality of assimilation having taken place elsewhere, not in Italy, and where naturally the migrants expect to find work and welcome. The migrants are holding placards saying 'we must be allowed to pass' for good reason. There is nothing for them held at border points.
The Italian government has decided on three policies to ameliorate the migrant impact as they journey through the physical and political bottlenecks of the EU. First the ships that are picking them up out of the Mediterranean will not be able to disembark them at Italian ports: the rescue ships are considered as part of the national territory of their registration. Second the Prefects are to be authorised by the Italian Home Office to issue temporary laissez-passer to migrants so that they can move about the EU. Third the migrants will be housed temporarily in disused military barracks which are hurriedly being readied, rather than at international railway stations.
None of these measures are optimal but all are necessary. In refusing to acknowledge the scale of this migratory emergency and the iron conditions that must be met - the migrants must be rescued, the migrants cannot be returned, the migrants must reach their settled communities to have a hope - some countries of the EU, particularly France, have precipitated an emergency towards a disaster.