by Thomas D. Williams, Ph.D.
Switzerland has added dozens of guards and a surveillance
drone at its Italian border in an effort to reinforce security and
stanch the flow of migrants heading into northern Europe.
Ever since an agreement between the European Union and Turkey closed
down the “Balkan route” to Germany last March, migrants trapped in Italy
after crossing the Mediterranean from North Africa have focused on
Italy’s northern borders, and particularly the route through southern
New Swiss measures have included the deployment
of an Aerospace Ranger Su-27 surveillance drone, which patrols along
the border in an attempt to catch sight of migrants trying to cross
illegally into Switzerland. Some migrants have resorted to hiking
obscure mountain trails in order to elude Italian and Swiss authorities.
Since January 1, more than 14,000 migrants have entered, or attempted
to enter, Switzerland illegally. According to data reported by Swiss
television, the new measures have made a notable difference in the
effectiveness of border security, with some 70% of illegal being sent
back to Italy, as opposed to only 10% up to a month ago.
The migrants’ new itinerary takes migrants through northern Italy’s
beautiful Great Lakes region, in the foothills of the Italian Alps.
Migrants caused a media stir
earlier this month after setting up a makeshift camp around the San
Giovanni train station at the southern tip of Lake Como, vacation home
to such celebrities as George Clooney.
A vocal spokesman for open European borders to migrants, Clooney came
under fire earlier this year for the apparent inconsistency between his
demands for privacy in his 22-room luxury villa in Lake Como and his
insistence that others take in more migrants.
from northern Italy over the past year suggest that the Clooney couple
has found their $100 million Lake Como property to be too public, and
rumors that they might be selling the estate have continued to
Local mayor Roberto Pozzi has made extra efforts to guarantee the
actor’s privacy, Going so far as to impose a $600 fine for anyone found
trespassing on or around the actor’s 18th-century estate.
Though many find it glamorous to have Clooney as a neighbor, some, like local fisherman Livio de’ Angeli, resent the restrictions imposed to ensure the actor’s privacy.
“I used to be able to leave my car here on the ramp leading down to
the water, but now I can’t—I’d get fined by the police,” the man said.
“You’re not allowed to park anywhere near the villa and you can’t take a
boat within 100 meters of the house. It’s like living in a mini
Currently, there are more than 130,000 mostly African migrants living
in welcome centers throughout Italy, waiting for their asylum requests
to be processed. Many have expressed their unwillingness to remain in
Italy, insisting that they be transferred to Germany and other countries
in northern Europe.