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TeleGraph.co.uk: Dozens of child migrants forced to sleep in police stations as Barcelona's reception centres full

Posted by: Berhane.Habtemariam59@web.de

Date: Friday, 21 September 2018

Sixty nine migrants are rescued off the southern Spanish coast in June this year looking for a better life in Europe
Sixty nine migrants are rescued off the southern Spanish coast in June this year looking for a better life in Europe  Credit: AFP

Migrant children as young as ten are being forced to sleep at police stations in northern Spain, officers have warned, as record arrivals across the Mediterranean overwhelm reception centres.

The Mossos d’Esquadra, the Catalan police force, has called for “urgent” intervention after saturated facilities turned away minors arriving this week, leaving them with nowhere to go.

Images published by local media showed boys sleeping on floors and benches in one Barcelona police station, a situation repeated in others across the city and elsewhere in Catalonia. 

Officers said they had been forced to turn station waiting rooms into makeshift dormitories as an emergency measure. The alternative, one explained to the Barcelona-based newspaper La Vanguardia, would have been “leaving children helpless in the middle of the street”. 

Spain has been experiencing record numbers of migrant arrivals in recent months, having surpassed Italy earlier this year as the largest gateway for those crossing the Mediterranean to Europe. 

Border fence separating the Spanish enclave of Ceuta from Morocco, once used by migrants as a route to a better life in Europe 
Border fence separating the Spanish enclave of Ceuta from Morocco, once used by migrants as a route to a better life in Europe  Credit: Getty Images Europe

This year so far, 34,238 migrants have landed in Spain, almost half of all arrivals by sea to the European Union and more than triple those in the same period last year. 

The surge, prompted by an EU crackdown on crossings from Libya and the closure of Italy’s ports to migrant rescue ships, has put further pressure on an asylum system that NGOs already described as collapsed. In Spain’s south, authorities say they are unable to cope, with new arrivals often left sleeping in sports halls or at police stations before they are redistributed to other parts of the country.

But, as The Sunday Telegraph reported in August, authorities and NGOs in northern areas are increasingly complaining about chaotic transfers of migrants by a system that they say is primarily concerned with moving them on.

Unaccompanied minors usually remain in specialist centres in the south. But in this case, the child migrants - mostly Moroccans between 10 and 14 - were transferred to Barcelona, where the police were then notified that reception centres were full.

Some had by yesterday (Friday) spent four nights sleeping on the floor, eating only sandwiches and unable to shower or change clothes.

 “It is unacceptable that the authorities think it is better for these children to be in these conditions than in proper centres," one officer said.

In a statement, the Catalan police union SAP complained that officers had effectively been "blackmailed" into taking in the minors. Authorities could not use the "excuse" the centres had no space - "neither do the police", the union said.

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