HRW: Canary Island migrant camp failing to respect people’s dignity, rights

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain, Nov 11 (efe-epa).- Human Rights Watch on Wednesday said the conditions at a migrant center set-up on a pier in Gran Canaria, part of the Spanish Canary Islands, did not “respect people’s dignity or basic rights” and reflected poorly on Spain.

The NGO said in a report that although it assumed “the best intention” of workers at the Arguineguín pier in southern Gran Canaria, the conditions were inadequate and not-equipped for basic safeguarding against Covid-19.

The Canary Islands, an archipelago off Africa’s Atlantic coast, is currently experiencing its worst migrant crisis in 14 years. Hundreds of migrants are arriving from the African continent each day and search and rescue operations are becoming overwhelmed.

Canary Island authorities have reported the arrival of 11,409 migrants so far this year, seven times more than recorded in the same period in 2019. Spain’s Interior Minister said the true figure could be closer to 16,000.

Judith Sunderland, the acting deputy Europe and Central Asia director for HRW, visited the island last week.

She said: “Improvising a reception and identification camp on a pier was never a good idea and now the chaos there poses a real threat to people’s rights, health, and safety.

“Times are tough, but Spain can and should provide a humane response to people arriving on its shores.”

The NGO said its research indicates that the emergency accommodation set up on the pier is “wholly inadequate even when under capacity.”

It added: “In addition to poor conditions, the procedure on the pier raises serious concerns about access to information and respect for the right to apply for asylum.”

With an official capacity for 400 people split between 14 tents, the camp was first erected in August for medical screening, including Covid-19 checks, of migrants arriving at the Spanish territory, HRW said.

When the HRW acting director visited the pier, 835 migrants were being housed there. Following further migrant rescues over the weekend, which were record-breaking in terms of numbers, the population grew to 2,000.

The NGO said that many migrants at the pier appeared to have been detained beyond the 72 hours allowed by Spanish law. EFE-EPA


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