May 26, 2016 / 9:12 PM / 2 years ago

Italian mayor breaks with PM's party over lack of help for migrants

ROME (Reuters) - A mayor and other officials in a Riviera town have suspended their membership of Italy’s ruling party in protest at what they view as government neglect of scores of migrants living rough there.

Migrants and activists stand on the rocks of the seawall at the Saint Ludovic border crossing on the Mediterranean Sea between Ventimiglia, Italy and Menton, France, September 30, 2015. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard/File Photo

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has called repeatedly for more help from the European Union to process the migrants who arrive daily from North Africa by boat. Almost 38,000 have reached Italy so far this year, according to the interior ministry.

Meanwhile councillors from Renzi’s Democratic Party (PD) in Ventimiglia, a stone’s throw from France, are frustrated at the lack of a regional or national response to requests for help with some 200 migrants who are camped out under a bridge.

“These people are living like animals and we cannot accept that,” said local PD head Domenico Casile, adding he along with Mayor Enrico Ioculano and some other councillors had suspended their party membership.

“The PD is in government with lots of ministers... and these people have kept quiet.”

Casile said a migrant identification center at Ventimiglia, whose rocky shore also became the site of a temporary migrant camp last year, had been closed, but the problem was not solved.

The risky route from Libya to Italy is becoming the main entry point for migrants to Europe after a deal between the EU and Turkey stemmed arrivals in Greece.

Good weather has tempted thousands to make the crossing this week, and two shipwrecks have killed at least five people.

Europe’s worst migrant crisis since World War Two has prompted clashes between governments over border control, led to the build-up of thousands of people in squalid camps and called into question the EU’s concept of passport-free travel.

Many of the mostly Sudanese, Eritrean and Somali migrants who gathered in a makeshift camp on Ventimiglia’s seashore last year had tried to cross the border to France and been turned back.

Reporting by Isla Binnie; editing by John Stonestreet

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