Authorities working to avoid repeat of underage migrant problem next summer
With 3,000 unaccompanied minors expected in Catalonia this year, government has plans in pipeline to cope with influx
The continuing rise in the number of unaccompanied and underage migrants coming to Catalonia has recently caused something of a headache for the authorities, with many of the young people forced to sleep in police stations due to a lack of places in juvenile centers, especially in summer.
Childhood and Adolescent Services (DGAIA) and the interior ministry are working on tackling the problem to prevent this from happening next summer, including "reviewing the procedures" for dealing with the migrants, according to DGAIA head, Georgina Oliva, in an interview with the Catalan News Agency (ACN).
In September, ACN reported that the numbers of underage and unaccompanied migrants arriving in Catalonia had gone up from around 400 in 2016 to some 3,000 expected this year. The work and families minister, Chakir El Homrani, said his priority was that "no child should have to sleep on the streets."
Yet, with a plan to open a new center for the migrants in Barcelona recently canceled, Oliva says the problem has still not been solved, and that despite a fall-off in the numbers arriving due to the colder weather there are still between 15 and 20 children arriving every day.
Authorities must be "inventive and innovative"
Oliva says that the authorities need to be "inventive and innovative" in finding solutions to the problem, and the DGAIA is looking into opening a center where the migrants can be processed by the police, and get the attention they need from when they arrive to when they are assigned a place in a center.
Although unwilling to reveal any details about the new project, the DGAIA head said that its final aim is to avoid what happened in the summer, with many foreign youngsters having to sleep in police stations. Oliva also called on voluntary sector bodies to help with the plan.
This plan is part of a larger group of strategies now being developed by the government. The aim is to review current procedures for receiving migrants and come up with new ones to cope with social emergencies, especially for migrants about to turn 18 who will need help finding work and somewhere to live.
The new strategy involves a number of government departments as well as local authorities. For Oliva, apart from being able to deal with the migrants when they first arrive, any new system should include more resources for settling and integrating them into society.
Among the measures being considered are four centers, one in each of Catalonia's main regions, which would be large enough to deal with up to 100 individuals while they are waiting to be assigned a place in a residential center or flat.