'Pass of death': The young migrants risking it all for the chance of a new life in France

One-way tickets to uncertainty: Migrants play cat and mouse with authorities as they try to cross from Italy to France. Emma Murphy reports

In Ventimiglia train station the four young boys heading for the train to France all wear pristine trainers and carry new rucksacks.

In their hands they have one way tickets for the station just a few minutes away. They are almost at the platform when an Italian soldier stops them.

The two at the front move quickly heading straight for the carriage, the two at the back are slower. They won’t be making this train.

Their friends go ahead, this is their chance to get out of Italy and they are going to take it.

French police wait at the first station past the border to check for incoming migrants who don't possess the necessary documents. Credit: ITV News

They jump onboard and try to blend in with those who do have the right to cross the border.They are two of many.

The trains between Ventimiglia and Mentón on the French side have become the travel of choice for those with enough to euros to pay the fare to get from Italy to France and then onto the rest of Europe.

The Italians, now so overwhelmed by numbers of arrivals, do only cursory checks.

The French police, facing a similar problem, are more thorough.

French police checking passengers documents. Credit: ITV News

Document checks at the first station expose dozens seeking illegal passage every day.

They are hauled off to be detained and documented then returned over the border to Italy.

Everyone knows they will go through this ritual time and again in the weeks and months ahead.

Ventimiglia is the place where for many the hope of a happy European future dies.

One 23-year-old told Emma Murphy that he had walked for 90 miles before being detained and sent back to Italy. Credit: ITV News

Without any real provisions, hundreds arrive every week to join the masses sleeping rough, living from handouts and questioning how they can get out of Italy to the rest of Europe.

Few want to stay, this is only a stop on their journey to France, the UK or elsewhere in Europe.

As a result they are constantly trying to evade French border control. Some do get through on the trains, others wait for nightfall to walk down the tracks.

Others take the perilous path into the mountains and cross over the appropriately named “Pass of Death”.

Others attempting to cross into France take the appropriately named 'Pass of death'. Credit: ITV News

Such is the wish to leave they will find any way out.

Ventimiglia is where the Italian and French rivieras meet. It is also the place where those fleeing some of great crises of this century come together.

Their presence exposes the flaws in the European migration policy.

The situation works for no-one, not those making these journeys, the countries receiving them, the police trying to mange them, the politicians seeking to control the flow, nor those who believe migration is an existential threat to society.

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