Opening port to refugees ‘not enough,’ say human rights groups
Number of migrants dead or missing from crossing Mediterranean to Spain already matches figure for 2017
Human rights groups in Catalonia have welcomed Spanish president Pedro Sánchez’s offer of Valencia as a safe harbor for a stranded refugee rescue ship with 629 people on board. Yet, they warn that opening ports to refugees is “not enough” and urge the Socialist leader to abandon the migration policies of his predecessor.
More than 22,400 people arrived in Spain through the Mediterranean in 2017, according to the report, “La Frontera Sud. Vies Marítimes” (The Southern Border. Maritime Routes) by human rights groups Irídia, the International Institute for Nonviolent Action (Novact) and Fotomovimiento.
In total, 250 people were reported dead or missing last year—a figure that has already been matched in 2018. Yet, human rights groups warn that the real figure could be three times higher.
“A European can travel to Africa with only 300 euros, but an African can’t reach Europe even if he has 1,000 or 3,000 euros”
Daouda Dieye · Street Sellers Union
The number of arrivals is the highest since 2006, when some 30,000 people crossed from Africa to the Canary Islands in what would become known as the “crisis de los cayucos” (the canoe crisis).
According to human rights groups, one of the priorities of the new Spanish president should be closing migrant detention centers. There are seven such centers in Spain. Severe human rights violations occur inside their walls, according to NGOs.
The situation of migrant women is worse than their male counterparts—both during the trip, and also after reaching European soil. However, human rights groups dismiss the idea that all women are victims of human trafficking, and stress that many make the decision to cross the Mediterranean by themselves.
Daouda Dieye, a member of Barcelona’s Street Sellers Union, criticized Europe for being responsible for conflicts, selling weapons to African countries, and tolerating dictatorships. “A European can travel to Africa with only 300 euros, but an African can’t reach Europe even if he has 1,000 or 3,000 euros,” he said.