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Some of the men who arrived at the hotel in October 2023. E. Cabezas
Four-star Costa del Sol hotel reopens to welcome more migrants as Spain sees record numbers arriving
Migrant crisis

Four-star Costa del Sol hotel reopens to welcome more migrants as Spain sees record numbers arriving

The Red Cross in the Axarquía is once again providing support and assistance for the 230 men who will be staying at the Urban Beach Hotel in El Morche, Torrox-Costa

Eugenio Cabezas

Torrox-Costa

Wednesday, 10 January 2024

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The four-star Urban Beach Hotel in El Morche, Torrox-Costa, on the eastern stretch of the Costa del Sol, is reopening its doors this week to welcome a further 230 migrants who arrived in small boats to the Canary Islands in recent weeks. It is the same hotel that hosted 385 men who arrived in October 2023 and left in mid-December.

SUR has learned that 230 migrants are expected to arrive at the Torrox hotel this week by bus from Madrid, where they were flown in from the Canary Islands on flights chartered by the Spanish government.

Although the numbers of people making the crossing has dropped considerably since the start of winter, the wave of migration at the end of 2023 has been the largest in recent history, with more than 31,000 people arriving in small boats to the archipelago, surpassing the previous peak, recorded in 2005 and 2006.

This situation led to Spain’s central government activating a special care plan, with relocations to the mainland and use of public and private buildings, such as hotels and residences, to accommodate the migrants.

Controversy

The work to facilitate the migrants’ integration in Spain and Europe is being carried out by the Red Cross, as was the case in October. According to data provided to SUR by the NGO, of the 385 people received in Torrox, 61 were vulnerable, one minor was referred to Andalucía’s regional government’s protection services and 64 requested international protection for various reasons. The majority of the group, some 300, left progressively "with their support networks", according to the provincial coordinator of the Red Cross, Samuel Linares, who spoke to SUR in December.

The previous arrival of migrants in Torrox generated controversy in the first few days due to statements made by the town’s councillor for culture and popular traditions, Salvador Escudero (PP), when he compared the migrants to animals and said on a local radio station: "We don't know if they are going to steal a car, it's like putting a time bomb on you". The Public Prosecutor's Office has opened criminal investigation proceedings following complaints from opposition political parties.

Mayor of Torrox, Óscar Medina (PP), thanked both the Red Cross and the government "with institutional loyalty", for advising him of the arrival of the 230 new migrants. Medina highlighted "the great work" done by the Red Cross and "the absolute absence of incidents" following on from Escudero’s words in October. Medina recalled that he asked for Escudero’s "sincere apologies" shortly after the controversy broke out.

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