Junta de Andalucía asks government for help after mass arrival of migrants

Members of the Red Cross at work in Malaga on Monday.
Members of the Red Cross at work in Malaga on Monday. / SUR
  • Nearly 1,700 migrants arrived in Cadiz and Malaga provinces last weekend by boat and the region lacks resources to deal with them

The Junta de Andalucía has requested assistance from the government to deal with nearly 1,700 migrants who arrived by boat in the region last weekend.

"We're finding it difficult to handle them all," said a spokesman for the Police Union, referring to the 1,396 people who were intercepted on the Alborán Sea and the Strait of Gibraltar and another 254 who were rescued and taken to different Andalusian ports.

The Junta, police, Red Cross and other NGOs were all involved in attending to the migrants, 500 of whom are now sleeping in sports centres in Jerez, Cadiz and Tarifa because there is nowhere else for them. The police stations are under considerable strain because every migrant has to be taken for document checks and processing.

The vice-president of the Junta, Manuel Jiménez Barrios, said the Spanish government needs to step in because Andalucía doesn't have the resources "to give these people the help they need".

The Junta's minister for Equality and Social Policy, María José Sánchez Rubio, also called on the government to help, saying this should be a matter for the State to deal with. "This should not be the responsibility of a town or a region; it has to be a matter for the country," she said.

This mass influx of migrants coincided with the arrival of the Aquarius refugee ship in Valencia, after the Spanish government agreed to allow it to come here when other countries were refusing, so obviously comparisons are being made.

The president of the Junta de Andalucía, Susana Díaz, praised the new Spanish prime minister's action in accepting the Aquarius, but said she thought it was "dangerous" to use immigration as a political weapon and that the onus was on Brussels to produce measures and a clear policy regarding what is happening in the Mediterranean.

The president of the PP-A party, Juanma Moreno, accused the government of ignoring Andalucía where, he said, the equivalent of "two Aquarius ships" had arrived within a few hours. He also complained that the migrants whose boats were intercepted in the Strait of Gibraltar were not able to be given the same levels of attention as those who arrived in Valencia port on Sunday.

The general coordinators of Podemos Andalucía and Izquierda Unida, Teresa Rodríguez and Antonio Maíllo, also asked the European Union not to "look away" and to modify their migration policies to guarantee the rights of people who arrive in these conditions. And not all of them arrive. A boat carrying 43 migrants also sank in the Alborán Sea on Saturday.