No Room

Lanzarote’s Cabildo officially declared a state of Humanitarian Emergency on Tuesday 9th October, after the Spanish government refused to provide emergency accommodation for around 100 underage migrants who have recently arrived on the island’s shores.

Quote: Spain’s government has failed to offer solutions.

A sharp rise in the amount of pateras (fishing boats used by migrants) arriving in recent months has meant that Lanzarote’s facilities for dealing with unaccompanied minors are now well over their limit.

As a result, migrants have been temporarily housed in various locations, with a camp of inflatable dwellings in Yaiza among the most visible. Young migrants have also been placed in the Nature Studies building in Máguez. Read more...

The arrival of several pateras in late summer soon exhausted the offical care facilities for unaccompanied minors. In early October, Carmen Morales, Canarian councillor of child protection, made an official request to the Spanish government to allow the army barracks in Arrecife to be used to accommodate young migrants. However, this was rejected by authorities in Madrid despite the fact that the barracks are currently hardly used by the armed forces.

Pedro San Ginés, the President of Lanzarote’s Cabildo, repeated the request to Pedro Sánchez, Spain’s Prime Minister, when Sánchez arrived on Lanzarote to attend an event in honour of the Nobel Prize-winning novelist José Saramago.

Nevertheless, Sánchez made no statement on the matter, and has been widely criticised for not attending the temporary installations in Yaiza where young migrants are being quartered, nor making any public declarations on immigration to the Canaries.

The Canarian Government is defined by law as the legal guardian of underage migrants to the Canaries, and their immediate care is the responsibility of each island’s Cabildo.

All migrants arriving on pateras recently have been of Moroccan or Saharan origin, and their claims to be under the age of 18 are eventually tested by medical experts. Authorities have also noted that these youngsters are more educated and often come from more affluent backgrounds than previous arrivals. It is believed that the recent re-introduction of military service in Morocco may be a factor in this.

After declaring the state of emergency and criticising the Spanish government for their “lack of sensitivity”, Pedro San Ginés also criticised the inefficiency of the SIVE radar system, which has failed to detect any of the pateras.