Centers for unaccompanied migrant children in Andalusia are facing an emergency, after over 1,300 people landed on Spain's coast at the weekend.
Personnel staged demonstrations against "unsustainable overcrowding" at five facilities managed by the regional government in the province of Cadiz, to demand intervention. A hundred workers demonstrated in front of the Center Manuel de Falla di Jerez de la Frontera and staged sit-ins, chanting "No to overcrowding of minors at centers."
With a capacity to host between 18 and 24 migrants each, the Andalusian centers currently host four times more teens, workers at the center were quoted as saying in the Spanish media. "There is no physical space in the rooms to place matrasses and blankets on the ground," said Isabel Pajuelo, president of the committee of the Andalusian government in charge of the five centers of Jerez de la Frontera, Villamartin, Chipiona, Algesiras and La Linea de la Conception.
Over 400 minors at risk in centers
In order to deal with the constant inflow of new arrivals, about 15 unaccompanied teens were hosted in judicial offices without showers or proper facilities. In a radio interview, Pajuelo also denounced the situation of personnel forced to deal with a constant emergency, with over 110 youths arriving at the weekend.
Scabies cases have been reported twice at the center de La Linea de la Conception and there "is no possibility to take minors for a medical checkup when they arrive," said one of the workers, Manuel Segovia. "They are admitted without any sort of medical protocol being followed and they could be carrying infectious diseases."
The difficult situation at the centers also causes constant conflicts and brawls, said social workers who are often forced to call the police. Workers are asking for additional personnel.
Unaccompanied minors increased by over 60% in 2017
With a growing number of migrants arriving via the western Mediterranean route, a reported 6,414 foreign minors reached Spain last year, 2,417 more than the previous year, according to interior ministry estimates. The ministry said a total of 17,413 children and adolescents have arrived since 2014. Almost 37% of them arrived last year - a record for child immigration. And one-third of the total registered over the last four years - 5,642 adolescents - was hosted in Andalusia.