Train accident in Saint-Jean-de-Luz: the Franco-Spanish migration route is “more and more used”

the essential Three migrants died on Tuesday October after being struck by a TER nearby from Saint-Jean-de-Luz station, in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques. This new drama illustrates how the Basque Country is one of the main entry points into the territory.

They wanted to rest overnight and avoid getting lost after successfully crossing the Franco-Spanish border. Tuesday, four Algerians were struck by a TER not far from the station of Saint-Jean-de-Luz (Pyrénées-Atlantiques), three of them were killed.

The survivor of this tragedy explained to investigators on Wednesday that the group had followed the tracks in an attempt to escape possible police checks. These three migrants join three others who have already died since the start of the year 2021: two died drowned in the border river, the Bidassoa, and one another exile committed suicide.

An illustration, according to Lucie Bortayrou, president of the Bayonnaise association Diakité, “of the distress of these people”. “Despite the strengthening of controls, they are ready for anything. They do not do this by choice, it is survival,” insists the president, whose association works for the exiles.

+ 100% of arrests

In fact, since the start of the year 2021, border control systems have been stepped up, the Prefecture of Pyrénées-Atlantiques has thus seen an increase of 100% of arrests between 600 and 2021. But “this does not necessarily mean that the flow increases in the same proportions, it is mainly due to the more important means dedicated to the control”, one explains to the prefecture, which does not specify quantified data on the number interpellations.

The exiles crossing the Pyrenees are mostly from Algeria, Morocco, Ivory Coast, Mali and Guinea, according to the authorities.

To read also: Train accident in Saint-Jean-de-Luz: what we know about the death of three migrants struck by a TER

On the ground, the police are seeing an increase in the number of exiles. “We notice more and more lonely people, who seem a little lost …”, confirms Laurent Saysset, departmental secretary on the Basque coast of the Alliance union

500 and 600 people each month

The Diakité association counts, “between 500 and 600 people each months in transit via the Basque Country to other French regions “. “But not all of them go through the Pausa reception center, so this figure is underestimated,” she explains.

A consequence of the tightening of controls at the Franco-Italian border, according to him. What Lucie Bortayrou abounds. “In recent years, the passages have been more and more frequent, especially since the road through the Alps is even more controlled.” But what especially frightens local associations is that “this drama is far from being an exception”. “They are ready to do anything to come, and anyway they succeed, so we might as well make sure to welcome them as well as possible and avoid this terrible accident.”

The associations are therefore asking to secure the passage between Hendaye and Bayonne and also to install another reception center in Saint-Jean-de-Luz. For its part, the Alliance union proposed to the authorities the creation of a common police station for the national and municipal police in Hendaye in order to “have greater proximity to the field”.

A fifth exile found

An Algerian 12 who was part of the group partly decimated by the accident on Tuesday was found by the authorities on Friday, according to information from our colleagues from South West .

The possibility of a fifth exile had been raised after the discovery of identity documents at the scene. According to Sud Ouest , the young Algerian was heard by the police and confirmed the information already known.

He allegedly explained that he woke up before the others on Tuesday at dawn and got up to warm up when the train arrived. After witnessing the tragedy, he fled.

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