Three days sleeping on the floor of a warehouse half a metre apart

2020/06/04 20:37:00 Written by Canarian Weekly Gran Canaria

72 African immigrants that arrived in two pateras on May 26th in Gran Canaria, and spent the first three days of quarantine sleeping on the floor in a port warehouse, with no shower facilities. Two tested positive, and at least 42 slept crammed together, sometimes only half a metre from the person next to them.

Even though it's only the beginning of June, the Canary Islands are about to exceed the 2019 numbers of immigrants entering by boats, which was already the highest number for a decade.
2,698 people had reached the islands shores by December 31st last year, yet by June 4th 2020, there are already 2,552.

The Atlantic route to the Canary Islands was reactivated last summer due to the reinforcement of controls in the Mediterranean, which the data alone speaks for itself: in the first five months of the year the arrival of immigrants by sea to Spain, has fallen to half in the Straits of Gibraltar, the Alboran Sea, and the Balearic Islands, but in the Canary Islands it has multiplied by seven.

The combination of this increase and the 14 day quarantine, is meaning that the reception facilities are at the limits of their capacity, particularly in Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura.
This is why some of the intercepted boats are being taken by Maritime Rescue to Tenerife, as there is space in the reception centres.

This happened most recently on Saturday with a kayak of 55 people, intercepted just over 10 kilometres from Gran Canaria, just a few hours after another had arrived with 47 on board.

The night before, an unprecedented situation occurred with the 72 immigrants that arrived on May 26th, as they decided to place them in a warehouse in the port of La Luz for three days, due to avoid overcrowding at the Maspalomas police station, but following the applicable protocol.

On Friday the Chief of Police for the whole Canary Islands, José María Moreno, told Government delegate, Anselmo Pestana, that his agents had disinfected and prepared the warehouse, swept the floor, rented four chemical toilets for the use of the arrivals, got a hundred mats, blankets, pillows, and even provided food rations.

He concluded with the fact that: "Having completed police procedures and widely exceeding the term of 72 hours of being held, which, as a maximum, except in cases of terrorism, is established by the LECRIM (Law of Criminal Procedure), I hereby inform you that the police service established in said compound will be withdrawn, and a type Z vehicle will remain outside in order to avoid any altercation. What is participated in for the purposes of providing the social, reception and health care that the Government Delegation deems appropriate."

At the last moment, the situation was saved and the immigrants were not left on the street, because when the Police withdrew, the Red Cross took over, commissioned by the Government Delegation, within the agreement that this NGO maintains with the State Administration.

Until that moment, only police officers and health personnel who performed the PCR tests on the 72 immigrants held there, had entered the warehouse, with the result of two positive covid-19 tests.

News service, EFE, received three photos from sources inside, showing how at least 42 people slept three nights in a country, that at the moment, recommends keeping a safe distance of two metres, and in them it is clear to see that several of them sleeping less than half a metre from the next, on mats, on the floor.

The situation is not only causing unrest in the NGOs that collaborate in the shelters (ie, the Red Cross, the Spanish Commission for Refugee Aid, or the Modern Christian Mission of Fuerteventura), it is also worrying the Government of the Canary Islands, which has just made two revealing decisions about their concern: to carry out the covid-19 PCR on everyone who arrives by boat, and to demand that the State, in the bilateral commission that wants to hold it, deal with its two most urgent emergencies in this crisis (re-enforce public revenues and reactivate tourism), a third point is added, immigration.