European council criticizes Spain for poor conditions in migrant holding centers

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Spain has to guarantee decent conditions of its migrant holding centers and end the immediate expulsion of migrants who cross into its territory, the European Council told the Spanish government in a communique on Thursday.

The council’s special representative on migration and refugees, Tomas Bocek, said in the communique: “Spanish authorities should guarantee that every person arriving in Spain, including those jumping the border fences in Melilla and Ceuta, should be protected against refoulement and collective expulsions with a real possibility to have access to an effective and fair asylum procedure.”

Bocek, who visited Spain between March 18 and 24 this year, concluded that the installations that Spain has to house migrants are “overpopulated”,leading to the most vulnerable groups, such as unaccompanied children, being at risk.

“Dozens of unaccompanied children in Melilla and Ceuta have fallen out of the protection system, living in the streets and trying to get on board ferries heading to the mainland,” he explained.

This summer has seen Spain become the European Union (EU) nation which has received the highest number of migrants crossing into its territory by sea, with 28,620 people making the sea crossing to Spanish territory in the first eight months of the year, with a further 3,092 arriving by land at Spain’s North African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla.

“Managing mixed migration flows is a challenge for all member states, including Spain. Yet it is possible that responses reconcile border control and security on one hand and the protection of human rights of migrants and refugees on the other hand in compliance with Council of Europe standards,” said Bocek.

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