Swiss border guards have caught a 21-year-old Eritrean trying to sneak into southern Switzerland inside a piece of luggage on a train from Italy, a tactic not previously seen by local authorities amid an influx of migrants trying to reach northern Europe.
Dramatic video posted online showed a man’s hand, then arm, then head jutting out of the rectangular bag as he struggled to unzip it from the inside. He then got help from a border guard, unfolding his legs only to be led away.
The incident shows the lengths some migrants are prepared to go to reach parts of Europe seen as more welcoming to migrants. Italy and Greece have been the major entry points to Europe for hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees over the last year. The central Mediterranean Sea route has mainly drawn Africans, while the Greek route has primarily seen Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis.
Mirco Ricci, a Swiss border guard official in the Ticino region, said Wednesday the man was detained Monday evening on a platform in the southern Chiasso municipality and sent back to Italy because he opted not to request asylum. Officials confirmed the video was authentic.
“We’ve had people try to sneak in in a car trunk,” Ricci said. “This is the first time we’ve seen in Ticino that we’ve found someone in a bag.”
Early figures from Switzerland’s federal customs administration show a recent upsurge in migrants — mostly Eritreans, as well as Somalis and Nigerians — caught trying to enter Ticino in recent weeks. More than 3,400 were apprehended since May 30, at least 700 more than for the rest of the year combined.