Saturday, October 23

Migrants who arrived in Lanzarote by boat remain crammed into a precarious warehouse and without showers

More than a hundred people who arrived in Lanzarote by boat in recent days remain crammed into a port ship in Arrecife. In a video released by people linked to the defense of Human Rights, several groups of men are observed lying on mattresses and bunk beds and others on the ground on a canvas. According to the images, the recommended safety distance to stop the spread of COVID-19 is also not met in this facility guarded by the National Police and reserved for the affiliation of migrants. In addition, sources close to the attention of the migrants in Lanzarote explain that there are “about 500 people” who have not been able to shower since they arrived and that the chemical toilets are dirty.

The National Police has confirmed to this newspaper that it is a “specific situation” that is already receiving a response with the relocation of the people who have arrived on the island. “It is a process that will foreseeably conclude tomorrow, once the referral process to the reception system is completed,” they say.

In July, the Ministry of the Interior assured this newsroom that it was working on the installation of a CATE (Temporary Attention Center for Foreigners) in Lanzarote. “At the moment, steps are being taken to find the most suitable locations,” they pointed out then from the department of Fernando Grande-Marlaska. However, Interior still uses makeshift facilities to practice police debriefing. In order to be able to attend to the increase in arrivals, tents have been installed outside this ship “to give them a roof,” according to legal sources familiar with the situation on the island.

In relation to reception, sources from the Ministry of Migration explained to this newspaper that in Lanzarote there is a resource for vulnerable people, and when this center is full, migrants are referred to other areas of the Canary Islands after being quarantined in a center shared management with the Ministry of Health.

Lanzarote is the second island to which more boats have arrived so far this year, with 2,800 survivors, only behind Gran Canaria. Since last September 26, about 600 people have reached the easternmost territory of the Archipelago, of which 290 reached the island in one morning. Various organizations linked to the migratory phenomenon have warned for months that this island and also Fuerteventura have significant shortcomings to cope with a surge in arrivals. In addition, the island breaks another dangerous record: it is the point of the autonomous community where more people set foot on land by their own means, without their barges having been detected by the rescue services.

Amnesty International Spain has traveled to Lanzarote these days to investigate the situation of migrants and refugees. Volunteers from the Citizen Network of Solidarity with Migrants explained to Amnesty that the management of the arrival of boats to the island is characterized by “opacity, abuses of power and institutional violence.” After the arrival of 600 people in a few days, the entity warns that “the fact that everything is done so quickly and not very personalized can cause rights to be violated.” In addition, they warn that this CATE-enabled ship “may repeat images that have already been seen in the past.” “The assistance of a lawyer is not guaranteed, nor the correct identification of minors or people with special needs such as victims of trafficking.”

The other ‘ships of shame’

The first facility named the “ship of shame” was located in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in 2020. In a port facility in the capital of Gran Canaria, hundreds of migrants spent more than 72 hours in police custody. Health sources denounced then that the ship did not meet the basic conditions of habitability, since the people lived in a situation of overcrowding in the middle of the pandemic, with flies and a bad smell in the bathrooms and without showers. In addition, many slept on the floor or in folding beds.

The Secretary of State for Migration, Jesús Javier Perea, also ordered in April 2021 the progressive eviction of the Fuerteventura Cheese Warehouse. In this space of shared management with Health, the migrants who arrived on the island passed the quarantine. Perea demanded that the women and children be relocated first and asked Councilor Blas Trujillo that his area look for other more suitable places, after a report by the Ombudsman revealed that conditions were precarious.

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