Canary Islands: Homeless Refugees

2021-02-28   |   by CusiGO

The number of asylum applications filed in the Canary Islands in 2020 is clearly a mystery. In the same year, 23000 Africans arrived in the Patra islands and only 3984 international protection claims were formally filed. Data by nationality have not yet been published, so common sense may lead anyone to be asked where those who seek refuge on the island come from and respond hastily.

Mali, right? Tanta Judith Sunderland, deputy director of Human Rights Watch, noted violations of migrants’ rights in Grand canary in November.

The answer is No. although these islands provide a safe haven for more than 4000 Malians and hundreds of migrants fleeing conflict, melting, forced marriage, political persecution or ethnic violence, more than 90% of the applications in the Canary Islands come from In the detailed statistics by nationality provided to the country by the Ministry of the interior, Africans need to use a magnifying glass to find out. They account for only 8.6% of the total. The largest number was Malians, with only 189 applicants. Although Malian nationals also migrate for economic reasons, they are one of the clearest features of potential refugees because they come from a country where conflicts and terrorism have been spreading since 2012.

No refugees have arrived in the Canary Islands in pateras? In fact, they do exist and are not as few as people think, but the difficulty of seeking protection excludes them from the statistics, and about 10 consulting experts agree. They are invisible Madrid and Brussels. “Like the rest of Spain, the asylum process in the Canary Islands faces many challenges. “These islands have not been strengthened with the specific asylum capacity they need and need more resources,” warned Maria Jes Vega, a spokesman for the office in Spain.

The shortcomings of the system are only found during landing. The first people who had to advise them on the rights of immigrants were public lawyers, but legal aid no longer existed in Patras’s most populous months. At the grancanario pier in arguinegu í n, more than 2600 people poured in, and lawyers themselves admitted that only a few met their clients in person, and most just signed return orders and charged service fees at the police station. In Tenerife, lawyers dedicated to providing high-quality personal assistance found that in order to care for nearly 200 people, they had only one interpreter.

Since mid November, the situation has improved after complaints from the state and the ser network, but there are still deficiencies with the assistance of interpreters and Public Counsel, sometimes without foreign training. “We are a group of Malians, and when the lawyers come, we don’t understand anything. Idrissa camara, a 38 year old Malian who arrived in great Canary on December 23 last year, complained: “there is a Malian translator who can speak bambala, but we speak sonik.”. Camara wants to be protected in Spain so he can take his family away from Mauritania. The man claims that he has been harassed by jihadis in his village in the western part of the country since 2016. In one attack, his wife and a daughter were raped.

It is also the duty of the police, judges or prosecutors to facilitate access to this procedure, and it is the duty of the competent authorities to identify these situations and to inform them of their right to seek international protection, especially when they are facing detention for repatriation. In September, a Malian albino patient was deported from a detention center without compensation, because his condition may lead to his death in his own country, which is very striking. Dozens of Malians who were deported to Mauritania from mid-2019 to early 2020 also reported that they did not know Your right to seek asylum.

In Red Cross run hotels, the confusion of new arrivals seeking asylum has been going on for months. The group has only three lawyers in Las Palmas and one in Tenerife, providing legal aid to 23000 people who will arrive in 2020. They don’t have enough. “We asked a lot of questions in the hotel, but they always told us two things: ‘this is not a place to seek asylum’ and ‘wait, wait,'” recalled camara, a Malian already in Madrid, who still didn’t know how to start paperwork.

The Red Cross itself acknowledged in the Senate on 9 February that one of its “greatest concerns” was the difficulty of access to proceedings on the island, especially in the state of alarm. According to Antonio Rico, President of the Canary Islands, the main obstacle is that it is very difficult for immigrants to register their willingness to seek asylum with the police. “Although we have good coordination with the national police in handling the relevant procedures, the large number of people and insufficient appointment make this point Access and documentation are slowing down, “Rico explained.

Daniel arencibia, a lawyer, has hundreds of forms in the trunk of his car so that immigrants can express their willingness to seek asylum on them and record them in some way. In the past few months, he has used his spare time to provide information and convenience to dozens of people without the north. “NGOs in charge of reception are trying to help immigrants, but no competent agency can comprehensively solve this problem. When immigrants try to apply in their personal capacity, the problem multiplies: the police department does not have enough interpreters or resources to deal with them, so visits often end without a record of the application. “.

According to the Spanish Refugee Assistance Council (CEAR), the slow and organized migration to the peninsula has also made it possible for them to avoid seeking asylum on the island. “For months, we have seen asylum seekers stranded on the island, while other people’s information has been successfully derived,” said his secretary general, Estrella gal á n.

Spain is bound by various international agreements and must enable its authorities to identify these vulnerable situations and enable them to obtain international protection. According to Johansen himself, the Commissioner of the interior, protecting refugees is also “a moral obligation”, reflecting the “values” of the European Union. The Ombudsman has asked the general police and the State Secretariat for immigration to explain “the failure to identify particularly vulnerable persons, including those in need of international protection”. For its part, the office decided to deploy a team in the Canary Islands to support the authorities in better identifying potential refugees and enabling them to take advantage of the process.

“Spain has failed to fulfil its responsibilities in this regard. It’s a lack of information, a lack of lawyers, not asking the police to tell people their rights… It’s an obvious problem, not just in the Canary Islands, we’ve seen it off the coast of Spain, “complains Judith Sunderland, deputy director of human rights watch. “At this point,” he added, “we have to ask ourselves whether this is already a policy to meet the greater interest of the state in limiting the number of asylum applications.”